Two men who were arraigned by the Federal Government for importing arms and ammunition without authorisation Monday told the Federal High Court in Lagos that they committed the offence.
Oscar Okafor and Donatus Achinulo, were among five persons arraigned on June 14, told the court that they would change their plea from not guilty to guilty.
The others are Mahmud Hassan, Mathew Okoye (at large) and Salihu Danjuma.
They were accused of illegally importing double barrel shortguns, pump action rifles and single barrel shotguns (firearms).
They were arraigned on nine counts of conspiracy to illegally import prohibited firearms, “uttering” of forged documents, bribery and importation of prohibited goods.
All the defendants pleaded not guilty at their arraignment.
Justice Ayokunle Faji refused to grant them bail applications due to the gravity of the charges.
Yesterday, Okafor and Achinulo (second and third defendants), who were represented by new counsel Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) and Mr. Paul Ananaba (SAN), said they would enter a guilty plea.
Justice Faji directed them to notify the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) of their intention.
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 actions rifles.”
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 to public officials on two occasions.
It said Hassan offered N400, 000 to Federal Operative Unit’s Examination Officers on January 21 at Apapa to prevent “100 per cent search” of the 40 feet container numbered PONU 825914/3, which they knew contained prohibited goods.
The prosecution said Hassan, on the same day, “corruptly gave the sum of N1million to government officials at the Apapa Port through one Danjuma Abdullahi in order to prevent search of your container by Customs officials which you knew contained 661 illegally imported pump actions rifles.”
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.
According to the prosecution, in order to evade payment of Customs duty, the accused allegedly forged a bill of lading issued at Istanbul on January 9, 2017, claiming it was issued in Shanghai, China.
The Federal Government also alleged that the defendants “illegally imported into Nigeria double barrel shotguns, pump action rifles and single barrel shotguns (firearms) between 2012 and 2016)”.
The alleged offence contravenes 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 until September 26.
Source: THE NATION