The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Ogun Area 1 Command, Idiroko, on Wednesday arraigned four persons before a Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, Ogun State, for importing foreign rice into the country without payment of the import duties.
The four suspects, Azeez Zonu, Ebenezer Adeyemi, Adeniyi Olalekan and Salahudeen Taiye, were arraigned on a-five count charge bothering on smuggling, evasion of imports duties, possession of smuggled items, as well as assisting in smuggling among others.
In the charge sheet preferred against them with suit numbers: FHC/AB/73C/2021, FHC/AB/74C/2021, FHC/AB/75C/2021 and FHC/AB/71C/2021, the accused persons were allegedly caught with several bags of foreign rice imported into Nigeria with motorcycles and cars through unapproved routes for the purpose of evading payment of the stipulated import duties.
When the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday, the lead counsel for NCS, Abbas Ibrahim told the court that the four accused persons committed infringement, contrary to and punishable under section 47 of the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The judge, Justice Muhammad Shittu Abubakar granted each of the accused persons bail in the sum of N2 million with two sureties in the like sum.
The judge further ruled that one of the sureties must have a valid international passport or a valid national identity card and must be resident within the jurisdictional powers of the court.
He ordered that the accused persons be remanded in the Nigerian Correctional Center pending the time they would meet their bail conditions.
He adjourned the matter till 26th April, 2021 and May 4, 2021 for the commencement of trial.