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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Two get 2-year jail for illegally importing 1,570 pump action rifles into Nigeria

Justice Ambrose Allagoa of the Federal High Court Lagos, on Wednesday, sentenced two persons, Moses Ifeuwa and Festus Emeka, to two years imprisonment each, for illegal importation of firearms.

The two men were charged alongside a company Great James Oil and Gas Ltd. on eight counts bordering on conspiracy, illegal importation of firearms, forgery and altering of customs import documents.

The defendants had conspired among themselves to unlawfully import a total of 1,570 pump action rifles into Nigeria.

They also loaded the said rifles in two 1×20 feet containers and forged a bill of lading.

The offence contravenes the provisions of Section 1(14)(a), 1(14)(a)(i), 1(2)(c) and 3(6), of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap. M17, Law of the Federation 2004.

They were first arraigned in 2018 before Justice Saliu Saidu. The trial commenced, but along the line, Saidu retired from the bench, and the case was reassigned to Justice Ambrose Allagoa.

Consequently, the two men were arraigned in 2021 before Allagoa on eight counts bordering on illegal importation of firearms. They pleaded not guilty to the charge.

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The prosecution then opened its case and began trial, but the defendants afterwards opted for a plea bargain and consequently pleaded guilty.

The court, thus, convicted them and adjourned the case for sentencing.

On Wednesday, Mrs. Aderonke Imana, announced appearance for prosecution, while Mr Israel Ifeanyi appeared for the first defendant. Mr. Yakubu Galadima appeared for the second defendant.

Before their sentencing, counsel to Ifeuwa, informed the court that the two men had been in custody for about three years before their bail. The counsel prayed the court to take the fact into consideration.

Delivering judgment, the court gave effect to the plea bargain agreement reached between the prosecution and the defence.

The judge held that in such situation, the court would take into consideration the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, and should not impose the maximum sentence on the defendants, or impose consecutive sentence.

The judge consequently held: “The defendants are sentenced to two years’ imprisonment or an option of N1 million fine on each of the counts. The sentence shall run concurrently.”

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This means that the convicts are to either spend two years in prison or pay the sum of N1m on each of the eight counts, making it N8 million. (NAN)

Sandra Umeh
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