Justice Tijjani Ringim of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday remanded a Nigerian, Isiaka Musa and two Guinean, Traore Djakouba (Yakubu) and Mohammed Berete in custody for attempting to smuggle large quantities of elephant tusks and pangolin scales and claws out of Nigeria.
Ringim ordered that the Nigerian and his foreign co-defendants be kept behind bars after we’re arraigned before him by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
They were docked before the court on a five count-charge of conspiracy, and attempting to export the items, valued at N22. 3 billion out of the country without lawful authority.
The prosecutor, Smath Akande, told the court that the defendants, who lived at 10, Ijeoma Odika Street, Atlantic View Estate, New Road, off Lekki-Ajah Expressway, Lagos, were arrested on July 28, 2021, with 196 sacks of Pangolin Scales weighing 7137.40kg; one sack of Pangolin claws weighing 4.60kg and 29 sacks of Elephant Tusk weighing 870.4kg, which they had prepared for exportation
Amanda also informed the court that the defendants allegedly committed the offences alongside two Guineans, Muyribein Bereye and Sediki Berete, said to be at large.
The lawyer further alleged that the defendants violated Section 64(1) (b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap. C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria punishable under the same Section of the same Act.
The charge was read to the defendants, through an interpreter, Kabah Abdulahi, and they all pleaded not guilty.
The development made Akande, to urge the judge for a trial date and that the defendants be remanded in the custody of Nigerian Correctional Services pending the conclusion of trial.
But their counsel, Olayinka Lawal, informed the court that he had filed a bail application on behalf of his clients and that same had been served on the prosecution, since July 18, when his clients were first brought to court.
In a bench ruling, Justice Tijjani Ringim agreed with the prosecution that the matter is coming up before him for the first time and that the prosecutor is still within time to respond to the applications.
Consequently, Justice Ringim adjourned the matter till September 1, for a hearing of the defendants’ bail applications and also ordered that the defendants be remanded in the custody of the Nigeria Customs Service.