The Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) has arraigned one Ifeuwa Moses Christ, before a Federal High Court, Lagos, presided over by Justice Saliu Saidu for allegedly imported 1570 pump action rifles into the country without lawful authority.
Ifeuwa, a resident of 1, Ifeuwa Street, Ogidi, Anambra State, was arraigned before the court yesterday alongside one Ayogu Great James, of Plot 291, Dawaki extention, opposite Gwarinpa estate, Abuja, and Emeka Umeh Festus, also known as Amankwa, who is said to be at large.
Also, charged before the court, is an Oil and Gas company, Great James Oil and Gas Limited, located at 1, Warehouse Road, Apapa, Lagos.
All the accused persons were charged before the court on charges bordering on conspiracy, illegal importation of Firearms, forgery and uttering of Customs’ import documents.
The offences according the prosecutor, Julius Ajakaiye, a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, are contrary to and punishable under Section 3(6), 1(14)(a), 1(14)(a)(i), 1(2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The accused however, pleaded not guilty to the charges. The prosecutor, Mr. Ajakaiye, informed the court that the accused and others listed in charge numbered FHC/L/339c/18, conspired among themselves between September 6 to 20, 2017, illegally and unlawfully imported a total of 1, 570 pump action rifles into Nigeria, through Apapa Seaport, Lagos.
The prosecutor also told the court that the accused loaded the said 1, 570 pump action rifles in two 1× 20 feet containers marked GESU 2555208 and CMAU 1878178.
Furthermore, Ajakaiye, told the court that the accused persons and others now at large, in a bid to illegally and unlawfully bring in the weapons, altered and forged a bill of lading, issued in July 28, 2017, to read Guandong, China, instead of Istanbul, Turkey, which was written on the conveying container.
The prosecutor further told the court that the accused also altered Form M(application for Import) and Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), issued in August 28, 2017, with number MF 20170080364 and CN 20170768490/001, respectively, to read Guandong, China instead of Istanbul, Turkey, as country of origin.
The accused were also alleged to altered a forged bill of lading numbered ISB0281398, issued in July 28, 2017, to read 230 packages of wash hand basin and W/C, as the content in the container used in shipping of the illegal firearms.
After the plea of the accuses had been taken, the prosecutor, Mr. Ajakaiye, urged the court to remand the accused in prison custody pending the determination of the charge.
Lawyer to the accused, Mr. C. J. Jakponna, despite not filing any processes before the court, urged the court to grant his client bail in a liberal term.
However, the presiding judge Justice Saliu Saidu, while turning down the accused lawyer’s request, adjourned the matter till November 20 and 21, for commencement of trial, while ordered that the accused be remanded in prison custody.