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 businessman, James Ayaogu, was on Tuesday charged before a Federal High Court, Lagos, over alleged illegal importation of 1,570 rifles into Nigeria.

Justice Saliu Saidu ordered the remand of the accused, who was arraigned on an 11-count charge bordering on unlawful importation and possession of firearms.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Ayaogu’s co-accused, Moses Ifeuwa, had on Oct. 11, been docked on eight-count charge of the offences.

At the time, Ayaogu (who was arraigned today) was said to be at large.

On Tuesday, the accused was arraigned alongside his company, Great James Oil and Gas Ltd.

The third accused, Festus Emeka, also known as “Amankwa”, was said to be at large.

The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

After the plea of the accused had been taken, the prosecutor, Mr Julius Ajakaiye, urged the court to remand the accused in prison pending the determination of his bail.

Responding, defence counsel, Mrs I. F. Ekwoanya, orally urged the court to grant the accused bail on liberal terms.

Saidu ordered defence counsel to file a formal bail application before the court.

The court adjourned the case until Nov. 20 and Nov. 21 for commencement of trial.

He ordered that the accused be remanded in prison.

In the charge, the prosecution told the court that between Sept. 6 and Sept. 20, 2017, the accused conspired to unlawfully import a total of 1,570 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 country of origin.

The accused were also alleged to have altered a Bill of Lading numbered ISB0281398, issued on July 28, 2017, to read 230 packages of wash hand basin and Water Closet as the content in the container used in shipping in the illegal firearms.

The offences contravened Section 1 (14) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

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

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