A businessman, Ifeuwa Christ, who allegedly imported 1,570 pump action rifles into the country without lawful authority was, yesterday, arraigned by the Nigerian Customs Services, NCS, before a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos.
Ifeuwa, a resident of 1 Ifeuwa Street, Ogidi, Anambra State, was arraigned, alongside one Ayogu James of Plot 291, Dawaki Extension, opposite Gwarinpa Estate, Abuja, and Emeka 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.
They are facing a four-count charge bordering on conspiracy, illegal importation of firearms, forgery and altering of Customs’ import documents. The prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, told the court that the defendant and others conspired among themselves from September 6 to 20, 2017, and illegally and unlawfully imported 1,570 pump action rifles into Nigeria, through Apapa Port, Lagos.
He said the defendants loaded the 1,570 pump action rifles in two 20-foot containers marked GESU 2555208 and CMAU 1878178.
Ajakaiye said the defendant and others still 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 also told the court that the defendants altered Form M 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.
He further accused the defendant of altering a forged bill of lading numbered ISB0281398, issued in July 28, 2017, to read 230 packages of wash hand basins and W/C, as the content of the container used in shipping in the illegal firearms.
The defendants pleaded not guilty, while their counsel, Mr. C. J. Jakponna, despite not filing any processes before the court, urged the court to grant his client bail on a liberal term.
However, Justice Saliu Saidu turned down the request, adjourned the matter till November 20 and 21 and ordered the defendants remanded in prison custody.