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FG charges Nigeriens with e-passport fraud, trafficking offences

FG charges Nigeriens with e-passport fraud, trafficking offences

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Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

The Federal Government has charged three citizens of Niger Republic with various immigration and trafficking offences before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The defendants, Munir Dadi, Abdou El-Hadj, and Ouseina Abdoulaye, allegedly committed the offences in the 16 counts preferred against them on September 22 and 25, 2017.

In the case marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/188/2017 filed last year but amended on February 19, 2018, the prosecution accused the defendants of among other offences, conspiracy and knowingly making false statement that two other Nigerien twins – Ilian Amadou (male) and Lalian Amadou (female) – hailed from Buruki Local Government Area of Benue State.

The three defendants were also accused of illegally assisting the twins to procure the Nigerian e-passports and “unlawfully harbouring”  the two individuals without reporting to an immigration officer.

They were also accused of “directly or indirectly procuring the illegal entry” of the Amadous into Nigeria “in order to obtain financial benefit”.

The offences contained in counts 1 to 12 were said to be contrary to provisions of sections 10(c), 10(h), 12(2), 56(1)(a), 56(2) and 65 (3) of the Immigration Act 2015.

In counts 13 to 16, Dadi, El-Hadj and Abdoulaye were also accused of trafficking offences under the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement Administration Act, 2015.

The three were accused of conspiring and procuring the alleged illegal entry into Nigeria of Ilain and Lalain, said to be non-permanent residents of Nigeria, “in order to obtain financial benefit” contrary to sections 26(1) and 27(a) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement Administration Act, 2015.

They were scheduled to be arraigned before Justice Gabriel Kolawole on Tuesday.

However, absence of the first defendant, Dadi, stalled the proceedings.

The defence lawyer, Mr. Innocent Lagi, told the judge that the defendant was unable to make it to the court because he was ill.

But the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Aminu Alilu, who is a Chief State Counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja, was displeased that there was no medical report on the health condition of the defendant.

Alilu, therefore, urged the judge to evoke its power under section 113 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, by issuing “criminal summons” on the absentee defendant.

The defence did not oppose the prosecution’s application which the judge subsequently granted.

The “criminal summons” (different from arrest warrant) would be served on the absentee defendant, who must then produce himself in court  at the next court hearing.

The judge adjourned the case until June 6.

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