Alleged importers of 1,570 rifles lose bail application

Customs seizes 1,100 rifles concealed in container

A Federal High Court, Lagos on Wednesday refused the bail applications filed by the alleged two smugglers of 1,570 pump action rifles into Nigeria. The alleged smugglers are Ayogu Great James and one Ifeuwa Moses Christ.

The two men alongside a limited liability company, Great James Oil and Gas Limited, located at 1, Warehouse Road, Apapa, Lagos, were first arraigned before Justice Saliu Saidu on October 11 by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.

The defendants were arrested by men of Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) with the said pump action rifles allegedly concealed in two 1×20 feet containers, under the pretence of bringing in wash hand basins and water closets from Istanbul, Turkey. They were also alleged to have altered forged Bill of Lading and Customs Form M, which they used in allegedly smuggling the rifles into the country.

They had both pleaded not guilty to the charges, following which their lawyers, Mahmud Mogaji and Wale Adesokan, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), filed their bail applications and urged the court to grant them bail.

However, the prosecutor, Julius Ajakaiye, in his preliminary objection and counter-affidavits to the applications, vehemently opposed the defendants’ bail applications on the ground that the charges against them bothered on national security.

Ruling on the bail applications of the defendants, Justice Saidu said, “Individual liberty cannot be placed above national security. The charges against the defendants are considered a serious charge with the level of insecurity in the country such as armed robbery, kidnapping, terrorism and the rest.

“Considering the nature of the charge, I can’t exercise my discretion in favour of the defendants. I hereby refused the bail applications.”

After the ruling, Ajakaiye informed the court of an amended charge against the defendants.He said the amendment was sequel to the inclusion of one Emeka Umeh Festus, also known as Amankwa, in the charge.