Justice Ayokunle Faji of a Federal High Court, Lagos, has fixed February 7, 2020, for ruling a no-case-submission filed by alleged smugglers of 661 pump action rifles.
The alleged smugglers who filed no-case-submission after the prosecution had closed its case against them are: Hassan Mahmud, Salisu Abdulahi Danjuma, alongside Donatus Ezebunwa Achinulo.
Hassan, Danjuma and Achinulo alongside Oscar Okafor and Matthew Okoye, said to be at large and a limited liability company, Mahmud Hassan Trading Company Limited, are being tried before Justice Faji led-court on charges bordering on conspiracy, smuggling of prohibited firearms, forgery and altering of documents, offering of graft to government officials and importation of prohibited item by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
During the prosecution of the defendants, the prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye had called nine witnesses and tendered several documentary evidence which were admitted and marked as exhibits A to R.
The prosecution had closed its case on March 25, 2019, paving way for the defendants to open their defence to prove their innocence against the allegations.
At the resumed hearing of defendants’ no-case-submission last week, their counsel who Mr. Yakubu Galadima, Ibrahim Adamu and O. Bara, urged the court to dismissed the charges against their clients on the ground that the prosecution has failed woefully to link them to each of the counts.
The lawyer also told the court that none of the exhibits tendered or the witnessed called has been able to establish or prove the case against their clients. Adding that most of evidence of the witnesses against their clients are just ‘mere says’, which they said is not admissible.
Responding to the defendants’ no-case-submission, Mr. Ajakaiye, a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, urged the court to dismissed the applications on the ground that the prosecution has been able to established prima facia case against them all.
He particularly told the court that all evidence given by prosecution’ witnesses had linked each of the defendants to the alleged crime and none was hearsays as claimed by the defendants’ counsel.
In urging the court to dismiss the applications and urged the defendants to open their defence, Ajakaiye cited Supreme Court authority on a suit of Ibrahim Kamalu and the State, 2018, NWLR Part 1621.
Following the submissions of parties, Justice Faji, fixed February 7, 2020, for ruling on the no-case-submission.
The defendants were slammed with charges bordering on illegal importation of fire arms, conspiracy, forgery and altering of documents, offering of graft to government officials and importation of prohibited goods by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
The offences which according to the prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, are contrary to to and punishable under sections 3(6),1(14)(a)(I) 1(2) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. And section 98(1) (b) of the Criminal Code Act.
All the accused persons in a charge number FHC/L/190c/17, alleged that the all the accused persons conspired with one another to unlawfully import into Nigeria 661 Pump Action Rifles.
They were also alleged to have forged the documents which includes: two Bill of Ladings, one reads ‘Shanghai China’, as Port of Loading, instead of ‘Istanbul’, and another one which reads: ‘Steel Doors’, as the contents of the container instead oIm Customs’ Form M, Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) used in smuggling the the said 661 rifles Into the country.
One of the defendants, Muhmud Hassan, a retired Customs Officer, was accused of offering the sum of N400, 000.00, to one Aliu Musa, the Examination Officer of the Federal Operation Unit of the Customs Service with an intent to prevent hundred percent search on a container marked PONU 825914/3, which was used in bringing into the country the said arms.
He was also alleged to have gave the sum of N1 million bribe to a government official at Apapa Port, thorough Danjuma Abdulahi, in order to prevent the searching of the said container used in smuggled in the 661 illegally imported Pump Action rifles.