Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has called for medical reports detailing the health statuses of four out of the five men charged with illegal firearms importation by the federal government.
The judge on Tuesday directed authorities of the prison where the accused persons were remanded to make the medical reports available to the court before October 4, when the court hearing will resume.
The directive followed concerns raised by the third defendant’s counsel, Paul Ananaba (SAN), over his client’s health.
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 (AGF) 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 AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to the plea bargain proposal by Mr. Jacob’s client and the defendants’ medical reports provided by the prison.
The defendants in the case are Mahmud Hassan, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, Matthew Okoye, said to be at large, 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 authority.
In the eight charges pressed against the defendants, the AGF said the accused smuggled 661 pump-action rifles into the country from Turkey through the Apapa Port in Lagos, using a 40-feet container which they falsely claimed contained steel doors.
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 in Istanbul on January 9, 2017, falsely claiming that it was issued in Shanghai, China.
In the forged bill of lading, they allegedly filled "steel door" as the contents of the container instead of rifles.
They were also said to have offered a bribe of N400,000 to an official of the Nigeria Customs Service attached to the Federal Operative Unit to influence the said officer not to conduct a "hundred percent search on the 40-feet container with number PONU 825914/3."
The prosecution also alleged that the first defendant, Mr. Hassan, corruptly gave N1m to government officials at the Apapa Port in order to prevent the search of the container by Customs officials.
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.
The offenses were said to be contrary to sections 1(2)(c), 1(14) (a)(i) and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offenses Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2014.
They had all earlier pleaded not guilty until Monday, when Mr. Jacob’s client, Mr. Okafor, indicated his intention to enter into a plea bargain.