BY OLUGBENGA SOYELE,
Justice Ayokunle Faji of Federal High Court in Lagos remanded five men, who allegedly imported 661 pump-action rifles into the country without lawful authority in prison custody.
The judge gave the order after the accused persons: Mahmud Hassan, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, Matthew Okoye, said be at large, and Salihu Danjuma, were arraigned before him by the federal government on an eight count charge of conspiracy, importation of prohibited firearms, forgery, uttering of forged documents, and bribery.
The accused persons, who were arrested on January 21, 1017 at Nigerian Port Authority in Lagos by men of the Nigeria Customs Service, were said to have brought the rifles into the country from Turkey in Lagos, using a 40-feet container, which they falsely claimed contained steel doors.
The government also claimed that in order to facilitate the illegal importation, the accused allegedly forged a number of documents including a bill of lading, a Form M and a Pre-Arrival Assessment Report.
According to the prosecution, in order to evade payment of Customs duty, the accused allegedly forged a bill of lading issued at Istanbul on January 9, 2017, falsely claiming that it was issued at Shanghai, China.
In the forged bill of lading, they allegedly filled “steel door” as the content of the container instead of rifles.
The prosecution also alleged that the first accused, Hassan, corruptly gave N1m to government officials at the Apapa Port in order to prevent the search of the container by Customs officials.
The offences were said to be contrary to sections 1(2)(c), 1(14) (a)(i) and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2014.
The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
The trial judge, Justice Faji has adjourned till September 12, 2017 for definite hearing.