Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court in Lagos has admitted a documents said to have emanated from the Government of Turkish government, affirming that One Ayogu Great James, bought some riffles from a Turkish company.
Ayogu, is currently standing trial before Justice Saidu alongside his company, Great James Oil and Gas Limited and two other persons, Festus Emeka Umeh and Ifeuwa Moses Christ.
They were arraigned before the court by the Nigerian Customs Services (NCS) on charges bordering conspiracy, forgery and unlawful importation of 1570 pump action guns into the country and altering of Customs’ documents.
They were alleged to have committed the offences between September 6 and 20, 2017.
The NCS had alleged that defendants loaded the said 1,570 pump action rifles in two 1× 20 feet containers marked GESU 2555208 and CMAU 1878178 and that in a bid to bring in the weapons unlawfully, the defendants altered and forged a bill of lading, issued in July 28, 2017, to read Guandong, China, instead of Istanbul, Turkey, which was written on the conveying container.
The defendants were also accused of altering Form M (application for Import) and Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), issued in August 28, 2017, with number MF 20170080364 and CN 20170768490/001, respectively, to read Guandong, China instead of Istanbul, Turkey, as country of origin.
The prosecution also accused the three men of altering a forged Bill of Lading numbered ISB0281398, issued in July 28, 2017, to read 230 packages of washing hand basins and W/C, as the content in the container used in shipping the illegal firearms.
The offences according to the prosecutor, Julius Ajakaiye, 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.
All the defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges when they first arraigned before the court on October 11, 2018.
They were, however, denied bail, first by the high court and on Appeal, by the Court of Appeal, on the ground that the allegations against them borders on ‘National Security’.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, the prosecutor, Julius Ajakaiye, tendered in Exhibit an official letter by the Turkish Embassy on the Smuggled riffles.
The letter reads in part: “I have the honour to enclose herewith the documents gathered by the Turkish Gendarmerie and Police during the investigation initiated on the request of the Nigerian Customs Service. The findings of the Turkish security agencies are summarized below:
“Mr. Salih Ozparlak, who is the owner of the firm “Tornado Silah Sanayi”, which manufactures smoothbore hunting rifles, stated in his testimony that he bought the firm from “Avc1 Silah San. ve . Ltd. Sti.” on 1 June 2016 and the firm’s first exportation was made to Lebanon through Mr. Mehmet Özurü on November 1, 2017.
“Mr Fatih Ordukaya who is the owner of the firm “Avc1 Silah San. ve Tic. Ltd. Sti.” expressed in his testimony that he sold the smoothbore rifles with the serial number “17-NJT” to the firm “Osmanh Silah Sav. San. Tic. Ltd Sti. ” Mr. Ordukaya denies, however, the allegations of manufacturing other smoothbore rifles.
“Lists of serial numbers of the rifles manufactured, invoices, export declarations and sales notifications of both firms are attached herewith.
“It can be seen on the Customs declaration form dated 2 August 2017 that the firm “Osmanh Silah Sav. San. Tic. Ltd Sti.” sold the rifles in question to the “Great James Oil and Gas” company at No: 1 Warehouse Road, Apapa, Lagos.
“I hope that these documents and information will be of use in the investigation of Nigeria Customs Services. Meanwhile Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade reports that the container CLHU8822422 with the bill of lading number ISB0303165 has not been to any Turkish Ports since 10 January 2018.
“I avail myself of this opportunity to reiterate the commitment of the Government of Turkey to working with the Nigerian authorities Please accept, Excellence, the assurance of my highest consideration”.
During cross examination, the witness told the court that the third defendant is the shipper of the consignment. While added that the shipper and the cargo agent are not the same.
He also told the court that the third defendant was not the inspection agent.
Upon conclusion of the cross examination of the sixth witness, the prosecutor, Ajakaiye, sought for an adjournment, which was not opposed by the defence.
Justice Saidu, Consequently adjourned the matter till March 2 for continuation of trial.