Government arraigns five businessmen over alleged importation of firearms
Five businessmen were yesterday arraigned before a Federal High court in Lagos, for allegedly importing 661 pump-action rifles into the country.
The accused, who were arraigned before Justice Ayokunle Faji are Mahmud Hassan, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, and Salihu Danjuma. The fifth accused, Matthew Okoye was said to be at large.
In the charge, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said the accused brought the rifles from Turkey through the Apapa Port in Lagos.
He added that they were imported in a 40-feet container, which they falsely claimed to be steel doors.
The AG stated that the accused allegedly forged a number of documents, including a bill of lading, a Form M and a Pre-Arrival Assessment Report to facilitate the importation.
According to the prosecution, they also forged a bill of lading issued at Istanbul on January 9, 2017, falsely claiming that it was issued at Shanghai, China.
He said their intention was to evade the payment of customs duty by filling “steel door” as the content of the container instead of rifles.
They were also said to have allegedly offered a bribe of N400, 000 to an official of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) attached to the Federal Operative Unit to avoid a “100 per cent search on the container with number PONU 825914/3.”
The prosecution also alleged that the first accused, Hassan, corruptly gave N1million to government officials at the Apapa Port to prevent the search by customs officials.
In the last count, the Federal Government alleged that the defendants, had between 2012 and 2016 illegally imported several double-barreled shotguns, pump-action rifles and single-barreled shotguns into the country through Lagos.
The eight counts pressed against them border on conspiracy, importation of prohibited firearms, forgery, uttering of forged documents, and bribery.
The offences were said to be contrary to sections 1(2)(c), 1(14) (a) (i) and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2014.
They, however, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
Justice Faji adjourned till September 12, 2017 for definite hearing and ordered that the accused be remanded in prison custody.