Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court, Lagos, on Wednesday, refused the bail applications filed by the alleged smugglers of 1570 pump action rifles into Nigeria.
The alleged smugglers, whose bail applications were refused are, Ayogu Great James and one Ifeuwa Moses Christ.
The duo, alongside a company, Great James Oil and Gas Limited, located at 1, Warehouse Road, Apapa, Lagos, belonging to Great James, were first arraigned before Justice Saliu Saidu led-court, on October 11, by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
The Defendants were arrested by the men of Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) with the said pump action rifles allegedly concealed in two 1×20 feet containers, under the pretence of bring in wash hand basins and Water Closets (WC) from Istanbul, Turkey.
They were also alleged to have uttered forged Bill of Ladding and Customs Form M, which they used in allegedly smuggled the rifles into the country.
During their arraignment, they were slammed with the 8 counts charge bordering on conspiracy, illegal importation of Firearms and forgery and uttering of Customs’ import documents
The offences according to the prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Justice, are contrary to and punishable under Section 3(6), 1(14)(a), 1(14)(a)(i), 1(2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
They had both pleaded not guilty to the charge. Following which their lawyers who include: Mahmud Mogaji and Wale Adesokan, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), filed their bail applications and urged the court to grant them bail.
However, the prosecutor, Mr. Ajakaiye, in his preliminary objection and counter-affidavits to the applications, vehemently opposed the defendants’ bail applications on the ground that the charges against them bothered on national security.
Ruling on the bail applications of the defendants today, Justice Saidu said: “individual liberty cannot be placed above national security.
“The charges against the defendants is considered as a serious charge with the level of insecurity in the country such as armed robbery, kidnapping, terrorism and the rest.
“Considering the nature of the charge, I can’t exercise my discretion in favour of the defendants. I hereby refused the bail applications”.
After refusing the defendants’ bail applications, the prosecutor, Mr. Ajakaiye, informed the court of an amended charge against the defendants.
He told the court that amendment was sequel to the inclusion of one Emeka Umeh Festus, also known as Amankwa, who is said to be at large when others were arraigned before the court on October 11.
Upon taken the not guilty plea of all defendants on the amended charge, the matter was adjourned till tomorrow, for commencement of trial of all the defendants.