Don’t Release Illegal Arms Importers, AGF Tells Court

* Pix source:


The Attorney General of the Federation today made a passionate plea to the Federal High Court in Lagos not to release on bail a five-man gang, who allegedly imported 661 Pump-Action Rifles into the country without lawful authority.

The prosecuting counsel from the office of the AGF, K.A. Fagbemi, while opposing the bail applications filed by the accused, told the court that it would not be healthy for the court to release the accused persons into the society on bail.

Fagbemi, who noted that one of the five accused persons was still at large, argued that it was not even healthy for the court to release the other four on bail as their lives might be at risk.

“He’s still out there. He could be a risk to their own lives. It’s one of the grounds that the defendants should not be granted bail for their own good,” Fagbemi said.

The accused – Mahmud Hassan, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, Matthew Okoye, said be at large and Salihu Danjuma – had been arraigned by the AGF on June 14 for allegedly importing 661 pump-action rifles into the country without lawful authority.

They were arraigned on eight counts before Justice Ayokunle Faji, who ordered that they should be remanded in the prison custody after they had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At today’s proceedings, the defence counsel – Yakubu Galadima, Godwin Okaka, Olumide Oyewole and Adamu Ibrahim – brought bail applications for their clients, promising that if they were released on bail they would not abscond, but make themselves available for their trial.

Oyewole told the court that his client was ill and needed medical treatment, showing a medical report issued by the Isolo General Hospital.

But the prosecution opposed the bail application.

After hearing arguments from both counsel, Justice Faji adjourned till June 6, 2017 for ruling.

In the charges, the accused were alleged to have imported 661 pump-action rifles into the country from Turkey through the Apapa Port in Lagos, using a 40-feet container, which they falsely claimed contained steel doors.

To facilitate the illegal importation, the accused allegedly forged a number of documents including a bill of lading, a Form M and a Pre-Arrival Assessment Report.

According to the prosecution, in order to evade payment of Customs duty, the accused also forged a bill of lading issued at Istanbul on January 9, 2017, falsely claiming that it was issued in Shanghai, China.

In the forged bill of lading, they allegedly filled “steel door” as the content of the container instead of rifles.

The accused were also alleged to have  offered a bribe of N400,000 to an official of the Nigeria Customs Service attached to the Federal Operative Unit to influence the said officer not to conduct a “hundred per cent search on the 40-feet 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 in order to prevent the search of the container by Customs officials.

The accused were also alleged to have between 2012 and 2016 illegally imported several double-barreled shotguns, pump-action rifles and single-barreled shotguns into the country through the Lagos port.

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.

But upon their arraignment on June 14, they pleaded not guilty to the charges.


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