A lawyer walks through the compound at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi district in Lagos, Nigeria, May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
Reuters

A Federal High Court, Lagos, on Wednesday, dismissed a bail application filed by two accused, Great Ayogu and Moses Ifeuwa, standing trial for alleged unlawful importation of 1,570 firearms.

The accused are charged alongside a company, Great James Oil and Gas Ltd, before Justice Saliu Saidu, on Oct. 11, on five counts of conspiracy, illegal importation of firearms, alteration of import forms, forgery and false declaration.

They had pleaded not guilty to the charges, while the court had adjourned for ruling on their respective bail applications.

Delivering his ruling on Wednesday, the court held that individual liberty could not be placed above national security.

“The charges against the defendants is 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 cannot exercise my discretion in favour of the defendants; I hereby refuse the bail applications,” the court held.

After the ruling, the prosecutor, Mr Julius Ajakaiye, informed the court of a consolidated amended charge against the accused.

He said that the amendment was following the inclusion of one Emeka Festus, also known as Amankwa, who had been at large when others were arraigned on Oct. 11.

Consequently, the respective pleas of all accused were taken on the amended charge, while the court adjourned until Nov. 22 for trial.

According to the charge, the prosecutor alleged that between Sept. 6 and 20, 2017, the accused conspired to unlawfully import a total of 1570 pump action rifles into Nigeria, through the Apapa Seaport in Lagos.

He told the court that the rifles were loaded in two 20 ft containers, marked GESU 2555208 and CMAU 1878178.

Ajakaiye told the court that in a bid to illegally bring in the weapons, the accused altered and forged a bill of lading, issued on July 28, 2017, to read Guandong, China, instead of Istanbul, Turkey, which was written on the conveying container.

He said that the accused also altered form M (application for Import) and a Pre-arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), issued on Aug.28, 2017, with number MF 20170080364 and CN 20170768490/001, respectively, to read Guandong, China instead of Istanbul, Turkey, as the country of origin.

The accused were also said to have altered a bill of lading numbered ISB0281398, issued on July 28, 2017, to read 230 packages of wash hand basin and W/C, as the content in the container used in shipping in the illegal firearms.

The offences contravene the provisions of sections 1 (14) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation 2004.

It also contravenes the provisions of Section 1 (2) (c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17 Laws of the Federation 2004.

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