FG Closes Case Against Alleged Smugglers Of 661 Pump Action Rifles
Story by Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), today, informed a Federal High Court, Lagos, that it has closed its case against five men and a company, who allegedly smuggled 611 sophisticated pump action rifles into the country.
Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, stated this after the ninth prosecution witness, Mr. Tanimu Atunbi Jeremiah, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) had testified in the case before Justice Ayotunde Faji.
The five men standing trial before the court are: Hassan Mahmud, Salisu Abdulahi Danjuma, Oscar Orkafor, Donatus Ezebunwa Achinulo and Matthew Okoye, said to be at large, and a company, Mahmud Hassan Trading Company Limited.
The defendants are facing charges 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.
All the accused persons except Matthew Okoye, who is said to be at large, were first arraigned before the court on June 14, 2017, on offences which bordered on illegal importation of fire arms, conspiracy, forgery and altering of documents, offering of graft to government officials and importation of prohibited goods.
At the resumed trial of the defendants today, the ninth and the last prosecution witness, Jeremiah, a ballistic expert, while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, told the court that he conducted forensic analysis on all 661 guns on June 1, 2017, upon receiving a letter dated May 25, 2017, from the Lagos office of the Department of State Security (DSS).
Jeremiah who is the Officer-In-Charge of Ballistic Section, Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (Force CIID) Alagbon-Ikoyi, Lagos, also told the court that upon arriving at the DSS office, he was led by one Bolaji Adeyemo, to where the guns were kept for identification, examination and report.
The witness told the court that while in DSS office, he was able to identify the guns as: Gorgev Magnum Black 502, Gorgev Magnum Silver 137, Alpha Silver 10, Strong Silver 10 and tornado pump action two, making 661 in all.
The witness also informed the court that all the 661 pump action guns have serial numbers and that they were leather weapons which are listed under prohibited under firearms law.
During cross-examination by the counsel to the defendants who includes: Obafemi Akinwale, Yakubu Galadima, Samuel Johnson, Awal Adeshina and Ochioma George, the witness told the court that he carefully examined the 661 guns and that his report was thorough and fully made.
He also told the court that he did not sight truck and the container that was allegedly used in bring in the guns. And that non of the defendants present.
The witness also informed the court that the guns were design and made in Italy for Gorgev, but he did not know the date they were manufactured and the that company that made them.
When asked why he did not ask for the waybill used in bring in the guns, the witness said: “my duty is to know if the firearms are in order and that was what I did”.
He also told the court that anyone caught with prohibited guns must be investigated on how he comes about the license
Consequently, Justice Faji, adjourned the matter till April 4 and 5, for defendants to open their defence on the allegations against them.
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 on Customs’ Form M, Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) used in smuggling the the said 661 rifles Into the country.
One of the defendants, Muhmud Hassan, a retired Customs Officer, was accused of offering 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 the container marked PONU 825914/3, which was used in bringing into the country the said arms.
He was also alleged to have gave the sum of N1 million bribe to a government official at Apapa Port, thorough Danjuma Abdulahi, in order to prevent the searching of the said container used in smuggled in the 661 illegally imported Pump Action rifles.
The defendants were first arraigned before the court on June 14, 2017.
Their bail applications were dismised on the ground that the charges against them borders on threat to national security.
Upon dismissal of their bail applications, they challenged the dismissal at Appeal Court, but the decision of Justice Faji was upheld.
During their trial, the prosecutor called nine witnesses and tendered several exhibits, which were admitted and marked as exhibit A to R.