Revealed: How Gun Importers Tried To Bribe Customs Officials With N1.4m in Lagos

A new report has shown how gun importers tried to bribe customs with N1.4 million at the Apapa Port in Lagos State.
Aluminium siezed by Customs
 
Several people have been brought to stand trial for importing 661 pump action rifles and attempting to bribe Customs officials with more than N1.4 million to evade arrest.
 
According to Daily Trust, the defendants in the case are Mahmud Hassan, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, Matthew Okoye, said to be on the run, and Salihu Danjuma.
 
They were arraigned by the Federal Government on June 14 for allegedly importing 661 pump-action rifles into the country without lawful authorization.
 
The rifles were being brought from Turkey through the Apapa Port in Lagos in a 40-feet container they claimed contained steel doors.
 
They were also said to have allegedly offered a bribe of N400,000 to a Customs official attached to the Federal Operation Unit to influence him against a thorough search of 40-foot container with number PONU 825914/3."
 
The prosecution also alleged that the first accused, Hassan, gave N1m to government officials at the Apapa Port in order to prevent the search of the container by Customs officials.
 
To facilitate the illegal importation, the accused allegedly forged a number of documents including a bill of lading, a Form M and a Pre-Arrival Assessment Report.
 
According to the prosecution, in order to evade payment of Customs duty, the accused allegedly forged a bill of lading issued at Istanbul on January 9, 2017, falsely claiming that it was issued at Shanghai, China.
 
In the forged bill of lading, they allegedly filed "steel door" as the content of the container instead of rifles.
 
In the last count, the Federal Government alleged that the defendants had between 2012 and 2016 illegally imported several double-barreled shotguns, pump-action rifles and single-barreled shotguns into the country through Lagos.
 
The eight counts pressed against them border on conspiracy, importation of prohibited firearms, forgery, uttering of forged documents, and bribery.
 
They had all earlier pleaded not guilty until Monday 25th September when Jacob’s client, Okafor, indicated his intention to enter a plea bargain.
 
At the resumed sitting of the case on Tuesday, Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court in Lagos directed authorities of the prison where the accused persons were remanded to make the medical report available to the court before October 4, which is the next hearing date in the case.
 
The directive followed the concern raised by the third defendant’s counsel,  Paul Ananaba (SAN), as to the health status of his client.
 
On his part, counsel for the second defendant, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), told the court that he had already formally communicated to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation the intention of his client to enter into a plea bargain with the Federal Government.
 
Justice Faji adjourned the case till October 4 to await both the response of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to the plea bargain proposal by Jacob’s client and the medical reports on the defendants by the prison.

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