Illegal Arms Importation: Court Dismisses Accused’s Motion Seeking To Witness Mother’s Burial
Story by Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
A Federal High Court, Lagos, today, dismissed a motion filed by Oscar Okafor, one of the defendants facing trial over alleged illegal importation of 661 pump action rifles into the country, seeking the court’s permission to attend his late mother’s burial.
The court presided over by Justice Ayotunde Faji, dismissed the motion on the ground that the charges which the applicant is standing trial for is one that affects national security which is above any other interests.
Okafor is standing trial on alleged illegal importation of 661 pump action rifles alongside Hassan Mahmud, Salisu Abdulahi Danjuma, alongside Donatus Ezebunwa Achinulo and Matthew Okoye, said to be at large, and a company, Mahmud Hassan Trading Company Limited.
The defendants were slammed with charges bordering on illegal importation of fire arms, conspiracy, forgery and altering of documents, offering of bribe to government officials and importation of prohibited goods by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
The offences which according to the Prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, are contrary 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.
At the resumed trial of the matter today, Okafor’s lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) represented by G. O. Balogun, informed the court of his client’s motion for bail, to allow him partake in his mother’s burial.
When reminded by the court of earlier ruling which dismissed the bail applications filed by all the defendants, which the third defendant never challenge at Appeal court while others did.
Balogun pleaded with the court to grant the application on passionate ground, so that his client will be able to witness his late mother’s burial.
However, the Prosecutor, Mr. Ajakaiye, while urging the court to dismiss Okafor’s motion, said, “there is no sentiment in law”.
Ajakaiye also told the court that the applicant did not appeal the earlier order of the court which dismissed the defendants’ bail applications and that the applicant has not file no-case-submission after the prosecution closed its case.
The prosecutor therefore urged the court to dismiss the applicant’s motion.
Ruling on the motion Justice Faji said, “this court in its previous ruling dismissed the bail applications of all defendants on ground of national security. “This instant motion has not show any circumstances overridden national security, the application seems sentimental.
“The third defendant did not file any no-case-submission after the prosecution has closed its case, meaning that he has case to answer.
“Consequently, this application is hereby dismissed”.
Meanwhile, the Judge has fixed October 21, for argument and adoption on no-case-submission filed by other defendants in the charge.
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.
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 a 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 dismissed 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.