Illegal importation of firearms: FG urges Court to dismiss defendants’ bail applications

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Wednesday November 7, urged a Federal High Court, Lagos, to dismiss bail applications filed be two businessmen, Ayogu Great James and Ifeuwa Moses Christ, who were charged before the court for unlawful importation of 1570 pump action rifle into the country.

The two men alongside a limited liability company, Great James Oil and Gas Limited, locates at 1, Warehouse Road, Apapa, Lagos, were arraigned before the court presided over by Justice Saliu Saidu, on October 11 and 33, by the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS).

They were charged on conspiracy, illegal and unlawful importation of firearms, uttering of Customs’ forms, forgery and false declaration.

The prosecutors, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye and Shehu Bodinga, a Director and an Assistant Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, respectively, have told the court during their arraignment that the offences 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 had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At the resumed hearing of the defendants’ bail applications , their lawyer, Mahmud Mogaji (SAN) Wale Adesokan (SAN), have urged the court to admit their clients to bail in the most liberal terms, as the prosecution has not been able to contradict all the disposition of their affidavits.

The two Senior lawyers told the court that the only prosecution’s contention to their clients’ affidavits was an Appeal Court’s decisions which stated that once a case is of national Security, no bail should be granted.

The two silks while urging the court to admit their clients to bail also stated there is no allegation that the defendants will interfere with the witnesses or repeat the offences.

They therefore urged the court to discountenance the prosecutors’ counter-affidavits to their clients’ bail application and admit them to bail in the most liberal terms.

Responding to the defendants’ bail applications, the the prosecutor, Mr. Ajakaiye, urged the court to dismiss the bail applications on the ground of National Security.

Ajakaiye who cited two Federal High Court decisions and an Appeal Court’s decision, said similar bail applications on related offences, were dismissed on the ground of National Security.

Ajakaiye particularly told the court that the third defendant, Ifeuwa Christ, the alleged shipper of the illegal firearms, was elusive for more than a year and that he was arrested by the Customs and other security agencies.

Ajakaiye vehemently pleaded with the court to discountenance the bail applications and dismiss same accordingly.

Justice Saidu has adjourned the matter till November 21, for ruling on the defendants’ bail applications.

Meanwhile, the co-accused listed in the charge, Emeka Umeh Festus also known as Amankwa, was brought before the court Wednesday, for arraignment.

But the court ordered that he should be remanded in prison custody pending when the AGF will consolidate the charge against all the defendants.

All the defendants were arraigned before the court in a charge numbered FHC/L/339c/18, that they conspired among themselves between September 6 to 20, 2017, to illegally and unlawfully import a total of 1570 pump action rifles into Nigeria, through Apapa Seaport, Lagos.

The defendants were alleged to have loaded the said 1570 pump action rifles in two 1× 20 feet containers marked GESU 2555208 and CMAU 1878178.
During their arraignment, the prosecutor, Ajakaiye informed the court that the defendants 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.

He 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.

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