The Assistant Comptroller of Federal Operation Unit (FOU) of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), A. M. Adamu, on Wednesday, told the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, how five illegal importers, who brought in 661 sophisticated pump action guns into Nigeria, made a false declaration in Customs Forms.
It would be recalled that the Nigeria Customs had on June 14, 2017 arraigned two Customs Officers, Mahmud Hassan and Salisu Abdullahi Danjuma alongside one Oscar Okafor, Donatus Ezebunwa Achinulo and Matthew Okoye before Justice Ayotunde Faji on charges bordering on illegal importation of firearms, conspiracy and forgery.
The offences according to federal prosecutor, Julius Ajakaiye, are contrary to the provisions of sections 3(6),1(14)(a)(I) 1(2) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under the same act.
At the resumed trial today, the Assistant Comptroller of Customs while being led in evidence by the prosecutor told the court how the accused persons were arrested, and how the case was reported to the Department of State Security (DSS)
Adamu particularly told the court that the importers also lied in Customs Declaration Form, apart from paying less duty.
The head of FOU said; "the total duty value for the items was $200k but in the declaration, what was laid out was $150k. They also declared that the good originated from "China and Turkey.”
The witness stated further that "the importers listed 100 pieces of steel doors, 225 packages of steel doors valued at $13k, at the exchange rate of N305 to $1.
"I discovered a lots of discrepancies in Customs Declaration forms, each documents tells different stories', the Customs Chief stated.
Adamu also told the court that after his investigation, he informed the Comptroller-General of Customs, who directed him to DSS for further investigation, where he also made a statement.
However, the defendants' lawyers, Yakubu Galadima, Adamu Abdullahi, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) and Dr. Paul Ananaba (SAN) were unable to cross-examine the witness on the ground that they were just served with the proof of evidence on Tuesday.
The lawyers, pleaded with the court for a short adjournment to enable them to study the document.
Consequently, the presiding judge adjourned the matter till Thursday for cross-examination of the witness and continuation of trial.
One of the five accused persons Matthew Okoye remains at large.
Attorney General of the Federation in charge number FHC/L/190c/17 alleged that the all the accused persons conspired with one another to illegally import 661 Pump Action Rifles into Nigeria.
They were also alleged to have forged the documents which include; two Bill of Ladings, with one reading 'Shanghai China' as Port of Loading instead of 'Istanbul' Turker another one read 'Steel Doors', as the contents of the container instead of rifles. The Customs' Form M, Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) used in smuggling the said 661 rifles Into the country were all altered with the intention to conceal the real content of the containers.
One of the Customs officers, Hassan offered the sum of N400k to one Aliu Musa, the Examination Officer of the Federal Operation Unit of the Customs Service with an intent to prevent 100% search on a container marked PONU 825914/3, which was used in bringing the arms into Nigeria.
He was also alleged to have bribed a government official N1 million at Apapa Port through his colleague, Danjuma Abdullahi, in order to prevent a proper search of the said container used in bringing in the 661 illegally imported Pump Action rifles.