A Federal High Court, Lagos, today, refused the bail applications filed by the alleged two smugglers of 1570 pump action rifles into Nigeria.
The alleged smugglers whose bail applications were refused are: Ayogu Great James and one Ifeuwa Moses Christ.
The duo alongside a company, Great James Oil and Gas Limited, located at 1, Warehouse Road, Apapa, Lagos belonging to Great James, were first arraigned before Justice Saliu Saidu led-court, on October 11, by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
The defendants were arrested by the men of Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) with the said pump action rifles allegedly concealed in two 1×20 feet containers, under the pretence of bring in wash hand basins and Water Closets (WC) from Istanbul, Turkey.
They were also alleged to have uttered forged Bill of Ladding and Customs Form M, which they used in allegedly smuggled the rifles into the country.
During their arraignment, they were slammed with the 8 counts charge bordering on conspiracy, illegal importation of Firearms and forgery and uttering of Customs’ import documents
The offences according to the prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, 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.
They had both pleaded not guilty to the charge. Following which their lawyers who include: Mahmud Mogaji and Wale Adesokan, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), filed their bail applications and urged the court to grant them bail.
However, the prosecutor, Mr. Ajakaiye, in his preliminary objection and counter-affidavits to the applications, vehemently opposed the defendants’ bail applications on the ground that the charges against them bothered on national security.
Ruling on the bail applications of the defendants today, Justice Saidu said: “individual liberty cannot be placed above national security.
“The charges against the defendants is considered as a serious charge with the level of insecurity in the country such as armed robbery, kidnapping, terrorism and the rest.
“Considering the nature of the charge, I can’t exercise my discretion in favour of the defendants. I hereby refused the bail applications”.
After refusing the defendants’ bail applications, the prosecutor, Mr. Ajakaiye, informed the court of an amended charge against the defendants.
He told the court that amendment was sequel to the inclusion of one Emeka Umeh Festus, also known as Amankwa, who is said to be at large when others were arraigned before the court on October 11.
Upon taken the not guilty plea of all defendants on the amended charge, the matter was adjourned till tomorrow, for commencement of trial of all the defendants.
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.
AGF in a charge marked FHC/L/339c/18, alleged that all the defendants 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.
They were also alleged to have loaded the said 1570 pump action rifles in two 1× 20 feet containers marked GESU 2555208 and CMAU 1878178.
Furthermore, in a bid to illegally and unlawfully bring in the weapons, tbey were alleged to have uttered and forged Bill of lading, issued in July 28, 2017, to read Guandong, China, instead of Istanbul, Turkey, which was written on the conveying container.
They were also alleged to have uttered 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 defendants were also alleged to have 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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