A businessman, Ayogu Great James, who was alleged to have imported 1570 pump action rifles into Nigeria, sometimes between September 6 to 20, 2017, was arraigned before a Federal High Court, Lagos, by the men of Nigerian Customs Services (NCS).
Ayogu, a resident of Plot 291, Dawaki extention, opposite Gwarinpa Estate, Abuja, was arraigned alongside his company, Great James Oil and Gas Limited, locates at 1, Warehouse Road, Apapa, Lagos and one Emeka Umeh Festus, also known as Amankwa, who is said to be at large.
Prior to the arraignment of Ayogu and his company today, the NCS, had on October 11, arraigned Ifeuwa Moses Christ, his alleged accomplice before a Federal High Court, on the same offences.
During Ifeuwa’s arraignment on October 11, the prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, had informed the court that Ayogu was at large and promised to bring him to court as soon as he is apprehended.
In arraigning Ayogu today, he was slammed with the 11 counts charge bordering on conspiracy, illegal importation of Firearms and forgery and uttering of Customs’ import documents.
The offences according the prosecutor, Ajakaiye, are contrary to and punishable under Section 3(6), 1(14)(a), 1(14)(a)(i), 1(2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Arraigning the accused on Thursday, the prosecutor, Mr. Ajakaiye, informed the court that the accused and others listed in a charge numbered FHC/L/339c/18, conspired among themselves between September 6 to 20, 2017, illegally and unlawfully imported a total of 1570 pump action rifles into Nigeria, through Apapa Seaport, Lagos.
The prosecutor also told the court that the accused loaded the said 1570 pump action rifles in two 1× 20 feet containers marked GESU 2555208 and CMAU 1878178.
Furthermore Ajakaiye, told the court that the accused and others now at large, in a bid to illegally and unlawfully bring in the weapons, altered and forged a bill of lading, issued in July 28, 2017, to read Guandong, China, instead of Istanbul, Turkey, which was written on the conveying container.
Ajakaiye also told the court that the accused also altered Form M(application for Import) and Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), issued in August 28, 2017, with number MF 20170080364 and CN 20170768490/001, respectively, to read Guandong, China instead of Istanbul, Turkey, as country of origin.
The accused were also alleged to altered a forged bill of lading numbered ISB0281398, issued in July 28, 2017, to read 230 packages of wash hand basin and W/C, as the content in the container used in shipping in the illegal firearms.
After the plea of the accuses had been taken, the prosecutor, Mr. Ajakaiye, urged the court to remand the accused in prison custody pending the determination of the charge.
Responding, lawyer to the accused, Mrs. I. F. Ekwoanya, despite not filing any processes before the court, while citing the authority of Abiola Vs FRN, urged the court to grant his client bail in a liberal term.
But the presiding judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, ordered the counsel to the accused to file her client’s bail application and depose to an affidavit stating the reasons why her client should be admitted to bail.
Justice Saidu while adjourning the matter till November 20 and 21, for commencement of trial, ordered that the accused be remanded in prison custody