The Federal Government on Monday urged the Federal High Court in Lagos not to grant bail to five men who were arraigned for importing arms and ammunition without authorisation.
The defendants – Mahmud Hassan, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, Mathew Okoye (at large) and Salihu Danjuma – were accused of illegally importing 661 units of double barrel short guns, pump action rifles and single barrel shotguns.
They were arraigned on nine counts of conspiracy to illegally import prohibited firearms, “uttering” of forged documents, bribery and importation of prohibited goods.
Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) told the court that releasing the defendants on bail would be a risk.
Prosecuting counsel K.A. Fagbemi, who represented the AGF, opposed the bail applications.
According to him, Okoye was still at large, adding that it was not in the defendants’ interest to be released on bail.
Defence counsel – Yakubu Galadima, Godwin Okaka, Olumide Oyewole and Adamu Ibrahim – said the defendants would not jump bail.
Besides, Oyewole said his client was ill and needed medical treatment. He exhibited a medical report issued by the Isolo General Hospital.
Count one of the charge said the defendants “on or about January 21, 2017, at Apapa, Lagos conspired together to illegally import into Nigeria 661 pump action rifles.”
The defendants, who were arraigned before Justice Ayokunle Faji, pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
The prosecution said they brought the arms from Turkey through the Apapa Port in Lagos, using a 40-feet container, which they falsely claimed contained steel doors.
The Federal Government said the defendants violated Section 98A (1)(b) of the Criminal Code Act by corruptly offering bribe of N400,000 and N1million to public officials on two occasions to prevent a search of the container.
The defendants allegedly forged documents, such as a bill of lading, a Form M and a Pre-Arrival Assessment Report, in a bid to deceive the officials.
The alleged offences contravene 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.
Justice Faji adjourned for ruling on the bail applications. The trial will begin on September 12.
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