Illegal Arms: Witness Tells Court How 661 Pump Action Rifles Were Shipped To Nigeria

 

Story by Gbenga Ogunbufunmi

A prosecution witness in the trial of two former Customs officers and four others businessmen today narrated to the Federal High Court, Lagos how the defendants illegally shipped  661 pump action rifles  into the country.

Mrs. Blessing Ebri a staff of Merks Line Nigeria Limited, who is the eight prosecution witness while being led in evidence by Mr Julius Ajakaiye, A Deputy Director with the Federal Ministry of Justice, told Justice Ayotunde Faji how the guns illegally got to Nigeria.

Ebri in her testimony before the court said the consignment which was loaded into a container left the port in Instanbul, Turkey on December 20, 2017 on a Vessel named Bringing Voyage 701 en-route Spain.

The witness said on getting to Spain the container was reloaded into another vessel for unward shipment to Apapa Port, Lagos.

She added that the container eventually arrived Apapa, Lagos on January, 16,2017.

She further told the court that the shipper submitted the shipping instructions which was forwarded from Turkey and that the shipping documents were transferred to the Nigerian Customs Service six days before the arrival of the vessel.

Ebri said on the 18th of January 2017 an agent of the shipper came to Merks Shipping Lines office to obtain the company’s local invoices on behalf of the consignee and paid the required money.

She added that the agent also brought the original Bill of Laden and Form M and payed the local charges and was given a delivery order.

The witness said that when the DSS came to their office upon the arrest of the suspects a certified True Copy of the Bill of Laden and Form M were given to the DSS officials .

The Prosecutor, Mr Ajakaiye subsequently tendered the Bill of Laden and For M and the documents was admitted in evidence.

Meanwhile, further trial has been adjourned till 11th, 30th and 31st of January , 2019.

Recalled that the Nigeria Customs Service had on June 14, 2017, arraigned two Customs Office, Muhmud Hassan and Salisu Abdulahi Danjuma, alongside Oscar Orkafor, Donatus Ezebunwa Achinulo and Matthew Okoye, before Justice Ayotunde Faji’s court, on charge bordering on illegal importation of fire arms, conspiracy, forgery and altering of documents, offering of graft to government officials and importation of prohibited goods.

The offences according to the prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, are contrary to  to and punishable under sections 3(6),1(14)(a)(I) 1(2) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. And section 98(1) (b) of the Criminal Code Act.

AGF in charge number FHC/L/190c/17, alleged that the all the accused persons conspired with one another to illegally import into Nigeria 661 Pump Action Rifles.

They were also alleged to have forged the documents which

includes: two Bill of Ladings, one reads ‘Shanghai China’, as Port of Loading, instead of ‘Istanbul’, and another one which reads: ‘Steel Doors’, as the contents of the container instead oIm Customs’ Form M, Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) used in smuggling the the said 661 rifles Into the country.

In particular, the one of the Customs Officials, Mahmud

Hassan, was alleged to corruptly offered the sum of N400, 000.00, to one Aliu Musa, the Examination Officer of the Federal Operation Unit of the Customs Service with an intent to prevent hundred percent search on a container marked PONU 825914/3, which was used in bringing into the country the said arms.

He was also alleged to have corruptly gave the sum of N1 million to Government officials at Apapa Port, through his colleague, Danjuma Abdulahi, in order to prevent the searching of the said container used in bringing in the 661 illegally imported Pump Action rifles.

 

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