The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, today convicted and sentenced a retired Customs Officer, Mahmud Hassan and two others, to a total of 16 years Imprisonment each , for Conspiracy and unlawful importation of 661 pump Action rifles, forgery and bribery.
Others convicted and sentenced to the jail terms by Justice Ayokunle Faji led-court are; Oskar Okafor and Mahmud’s company, Hassan Trades Limited.
Justice Faji, however, acquitted and discharged Abdulahi Danjuma of all the charges.
Justice Ayokunle Faji delivered the verdict after reading the judgement for five hours in a trial that lasted almost four years in the course of which the first prosecutor, Mr Julius Ajakaye and one of the defence counsel, Adamu Ibrahim passed on.
Justice Faji while delivering judgment in a charge brought against the convicts, on count two of the the offence of illegal importation of 661 pump Action rifles into the country, sentenced them to eight years Imprisonment each on the said count.
On count one which was on conspiracy, Justice Faji found the first, second and third defendants guilty and also sentenced them to 8 years Imprisonment each.
The judge also ordered the forefeiture of the properties of the convicts to the Federal Government of Nigeria as provided for by the law under which they were charged.
Justice Faji however, discharged and acquited the fift defendant.
It would be recalled that the 4th defendant, has been discharged at the No- case submission level.
while delivering the judgement, Justice Faji said the offence commited by the convicts touches on the security of the country, adding that although the relevant provisions of the law for the offence which they were charged and convicted, prescribed life Imprisonment, but gave the court the discretion.
The trial judge said he would refrain from given a maximum punishment , but added that the convicts must be made example to serve as deterrent for other would-be criminals.
Justice Faji particularly frowned at the conduct of the second Convict, a retired Customs Officer, saying that if the container was not intercepted and the guns fell into the hands of criminals in the society that the negate effect can only be imagine’.
The convicts were arraigned before the court, for allegedly importing 661 pump-action rifles into the country sometimes in 2017
The convicts, who were arraigned before Justice Ayokunle Faji are Mahmud Hassan and his company, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, and Salihu Danjuma, while the fifth defendant, Matthew Okoye, was said to be at large.
In the charge, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said the accused brought the rifles from Turkey through the Apapa Port in Lagos.
He added that they were imported in a 40-feet container, which they falsely claimed to be steel doors.
The convicts were also alleged to have forged several documents, including a bill of lading, a Form M and a Pre-Arrival Assessment Report to facilitate the Smuggling of the said rifles.
According to the prosecution, they also forged a bill of lading issued at Istanbul on January 9, 2017, falsely claiming that it was issued at Shanghai, China.
The prosecution said the intention was to evade the payment of customs duty by filling “steel door” as the content of the container instead of rifles.
They were also said to have allegedly offered a bribe of N400, 000, 00, to an official of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) attached to the Federal Operative Unit to avoid a “100 per cent search on the container with number PONU 825914/3.”
The prosecution also alleged that the second Convict, Hassan, corruptly gave N1million to government officials at the Apapa Port to prevent the search by customs officials.
They, however, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
The judge said the sentence shall run concurrently, the convicts were convited on count one and two while other counts were struck out