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The Federal Government yesterday closed its case against a retired Assistant Comptroller of Customs, Mahmud Hassan, and five others currently on trial at a Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly importing 661 pump-action rifles into the country without lawful authority. Hassan, Salisu Abdullahi Danjuma, Hassan Trade Nigeria Limited, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Ezebunwa Achinulo and Mathew Okoye (at large) were on November 16, 2017, docked before Justice Ayokunle Faji on an 8-count charge of conspiracy, importation of prohibited firearms, forgery, uttering of forged documents and bribery.
They however denied the offence and have since their arraignment, remained in prison having lost out in their bail bids. At yesterday’s proceedings, the prosecution called its last witness, Tanimu Atunbi Jeremiah, a ballistic expert, to testify in the matter. The witness while being led-in-evidence by the prosecution lawyer, Julius Ajakaiye, told the court that he conducted forensic analysis on all the imported rifles on 1st June, 2017, upon receiving a letter dated 25th May, 2017, from the Lagos office of the Department of State Security (DSS). He said on getting to the DSS’ office, he was led by one Bolaji Adeyemo, to where the guns were kept for identification and examination.
Jeremiah, who is the 9th prosecution witness, further revealed that while at the DSS’ office, he was able to identify: 502 pieces of Gorgev Magnum Black; 137 pieces of Gorgev Magnum Silver; 10 pieces of Alpha Silver; 10 pieces of Strong Silver and 2 pieces of tornado pump action; making a total of 661 rifles in all. He also informed the court that all the 661 pump action guns have serial numbers and that they were lethal weapons which are listed under prohibited firearms.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyers, the witness told the court that he carefully examined all the rifles and that his report was thorough. He added that throughout his stay at the DSS’ office, he had no contact with the truck and container allegedly used in importing the illegal arms.
Upon the conclusion of the witness’ testimony, Ajakaiye informed the court that he has closed his case against the defendants. Further hearing in the matter was subsequently adjourned to 4th and 5th April, 2019 for the defence to open its case. In the amended charge marked, FHC/L/190C/2017, all the defendants were alleged to have conspired with one another to illegally import 661 pump action rifles into Nigeria.