The trial of three Nigerian business men and a company which allegedly imported 1, 570 pump Action Rifles into the country, between June 6 and 20, 2017, resumed today at the Federal High Court, Lagos.
The defendants in the matter were Ifeuwa Moses Christ, Ayogu Great James, Emeka Umeh Festus, who is at large and a limited liability company, Great James Oil and Gas Limited.
Giving evidence before Justice Saliu Saidu, a prosecution witness, Mr. Ayodele Joseph Rotimi, while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, told the court how on September 6, 2017, at about 3 pm, a call came through from the Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU), that a container was found at Terminal B1, of the Tincan Island Port, Lagos, laden with arms and that the Enforcement Unit should mobilised men and materials to the site.
He said on getting to the place, the container was found opened and that his team also confirmed that the container actually contained arms.
Ayodele said his team then requested for a letter to be made to the terminal manager to provide logistics to transfer the container to the Enforcement Unit, adding that the container was subsequently transferred same day at about 6 p.m, necessitating the shifting of the 100 percent examination till the next day.
The witness further stated that during examination, the entire content of the container was off loaded and stocks taken while the serial numbers of each of the rifles were taken.
Ayodele said that after the discovery of the arms-laden container, the Customs observed a trend of containers coming in from Turkey and that this necessitate the Area Comptroller of Customs to direct his men to be on alert by ensuring that the manifest of all cargoes from Turkey were properly scrutinised.
The witness said that while watching cargoes coming from Turkey, another container bearing the name of the first consignee, Great James Oil Gas Limited was also discovered. He said the country of the two containers was Turkey, adding that while the first container contained 1,100 Pump Action Rifles, the second container contained 470 Pump Action rifles.
Ayodele noted that after counting and taking stock of the items in the containers with the serial numbers of the rifles written, the Area Comptroller directed that the two containers be handed over to the Federal Operation Unit (FOU) of the Nigerian Customs Service, Ikeja, Lagos, where the items in the containers were recounted and the serial numbers of the rifles re-confirmed and a handing over and taking over letter was signed.
Further hearing on the matter has been adjourned till April 2, for continuation of defendants’ trial.