Illegal rifles importation: Nigerian court admits report from Turkey

Customs seizes 1,100 rifles concealed in container

Illustrative picture. PHOTO CREDIT: SHIPS & PORTS archive.

  

A Federal High Court in Lagos has admitted in evidence a report from the government of Turkey alleging that one Great James Ayogu bought rifles from a Turkish manufacturer.

Ayogu, his company, Great James Oil and Gas Ltd and two others, Festus Emeka Umeh and Ifeuwa Moses Christ are standing trial before Justice Saliu Saidu for alleged gun-running.

They were arraigned on October 11, 2018, by the Nigerian Customs Services (NCS) on five counts of alleged conspiracy, illegal importation of 1570 pump action guns, alteration of import forms, forgery and false declaration.

The NCS said they committed the offences between September 6 to 20, 2017.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge but were denied bail on the ground that the allegations against them bordered on national security’.

At the resumption of trial last Friday, a Deputy Director in the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Julius Ajakaiye, said the sixth prosecution witness, Ali Abubakar was ready for cross-examination.

But third defendant’s counsel, Wale Adeshokan (SAN) told the judge that Ajakaiye had yet to serve the defence with additional proof of evidence.

He said the additional proof of evidence was the official letter by the Turkish Embassy on the smuggled riffles.

Ajakaiye, with the court’s approval, served the July 30, 2018 letter on the defence.

The letter, with reference number: 540.18/18,52 and addressed to the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, was subsequently tendered, admitted by the court and marked as Exhibit GJ 23.

The letter reads in part: “I have the honour to enclose herewith the documents gathered by the Turkish Gendarmerie and Police during the investigation initiated by the request of the Nigerian Customs Service. The findings of the Turkish security agencies are summarised below:

“Mr Salih Ozparlak, who is the owner of the firm “Tornado Silah Sanayi”, which manufactures smoothbore hunting rifles, stated in his testimony that he bought the firm from ‘Avc1 Silah San. ve . Ltd. Sti’ on 1 June 2016 and the firm’s first exportation was made to Lebanon through Mr. Mehmet Özurü on November 1, 2017.

“Mr Fatih Ordukaya, who is the owner of the firm ‘Avc1 Silah San. ve Tic. Ltd. Sti.’, expressed in his testimony that he sold the smoothbore rifles with the serial number ‘17-NJT’ to the firm ‘Osmanh Silah Sav. San. Tic. Ltd Sti.’ 

“Mr Ordukaya denies, however, the allegations of manufacturing other smoothbore rifles.“