A prosecution witness in the on- going trial of alleged importers of 661 pump action guns, illegally imported into the country, last year’s January, told a Federal High Court in Lagos that none of the accused persons was chained during interrogation.
The witness, Jaiye Emmanuel, a detective with the Department of State Security (DSS) made the revelation while being cross-examined by one of the defence lawyers, Yakubu Galadima.
The Nigeria Customs Service had on June 14, 2017, arraigned two Customs Officers, Muhmud Hassan and Salisu Abdulahi Danjuma, alongside Oscar Orkafor, Donatus Ezebunwa Achinulo and Matthew Okoye, before Justice Ayotunde Faji for the alleged offence.
The accused persons were alleged to have illegally imported fire arms into the country as well as 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 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.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, Jaiye who told the court that he is a Staff Officer Technical of DSS, said that he interrogated the first accused person (Mamudu Hassan) when he was transferred to their office sometimes in March 2017, and that the accused made a statement, but he could not remember the exact date.
When asked if the accused person’s leg was chained together during interrogation, he said, “He was not leg chained”. He said in the video recorded by him, which he played in open court, that the legs of the accused did not show, because the table at the conference room where the interrogation took place was covered.
He also told the court that none of the interrogators at the conference room where the accused person was interrogated carried arms during interaction with the accused person.
When probed further if he knew how the accused were brought to the conference room, the DSS operative said he did not know how they were brought to the conference room, because his Department has other people for that.
When the witness was further questioned if the accused persons were represented during interrogation, by the lawyers to the accused person, the DSS operative told the court that he was not represented by anybody.
He also told the court how the interrogation was recorded by him and one Bolaji Adeyemi, whom he said did not play any major role.
Emmanuel also informed the court that each of the accused persons was interrogated separately, and that he did not write any statement during and after the interrogation of the accused persons.
The matter has been adjourned till today, for continuation of trial of accused persons.
AGF in charge number FHC/L/190c/17, alleged that 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 of Customs’ Form M, Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) used in smuggling the said 661 rifles into the country.
In particular, Mahmud Hassan, a retired Assistant Comptroller of Customs, was alleged to have 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 given 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.