Home » Illegal Importation Of Pump Action Rifles: Businessmen jailed 2 years

Illegal Importation Of Pump Action Rifles: Businessmen jailed 2 years

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The Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, presided over by Justice Ambrose Lewis Allagoa, yesterday, convicted and sentenced two businessmen, Ifeuwa Moses Christ and Ayogu Great James, to two years imprisonment over their involvement in the unlawful Importation of 1570 pump action rifles, into the country.

Justice Allagoa, aside from the jail terms, equally directed the businessmen to each pay a sum to the tune of N1million as a fine on the counts, in lieu of the jail terms.

The judge handed down the verdict based on the plea bargain agreement between the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and counsel to the two convicted businessmen, Yakubu Galadima.

It would be recalled that the jailed businessmen alongside their company, Great James Oil and Gas Limited, were first arraigned before the court presided over by Justice Salisu Saidu (now retired) sometime in 2018 on an eight count-charge of conspiracy, unlawful Importation of the 1570 pump action rifles and forgery and uttering of Customs’ import documents.

According to the prosecutor, Julius Ajakaiye (now late), the offence is contrary to and punishable under Sections 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.

During their arraignment, the convicts had pleaded not guilty to all the eight counts, hence, prompting the presiding judge to order that the duo be remanded in the prison custody on the ground that the charge against them bothered on ‘national security’.

However, upon the retirement of Justice Saidu, the case was reassigned to Justice Mohammed Liman, now sitting in another jurisdiction of the court.

As a result of the transfer of Justice Liman to another jurisdiction of the court, the convicts’ case file was reassigned to Justice Lewis-Allagoa, who started the matter ‘denovo’ (afresh).

However, when the convicts were re-arraigned before Justice Lewis-Allagoa, they made known their intentions to change their earlier not-guilty plea, and they pleaded guilty to the charge.

During the resumed hearing of the charge, the counsel for the convicts, Galadima, told the judge that his clients and the prosecuting Ministry had reached a plea bargain agreement.

The terms of the agreement dated and filed April 5, 2024, and endorsed by the convicts and the prosecutor, Mrs Ronke Imana, who replaced late Ajakaiye, reads: “That the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (prosecution) having had due regard to the nature and circumstances of this case in relation to the defendants and the interest of the larger community, the second, and third defendant shall plead “guilty” to the offences as stated in the charge.

“That the second defendant and third defendant undertake to be of good behaviour.

“Upon conviction by the Honourable Court, sentencing shall be at the direction of the Honourable Court.

“However, the prosecution recommends six (6) years jail term with effect from the date of arrest on all counts and to run concurrently.”

In announcing her appearance, Aderonke told the court that the defendants had reached a plea bargain with the Federal Government (FG) and that on April 22, 2024, when the matter came up for trial, the defendants changed their plea from not guilty to guilty on the eight counts amended charge.

In his judgment, Justice Lewis-Allagoa, based on the plea bargain agreement, sentenced each of the convicts to six years imprisonment, commencing from the date of their arrest.

The judge held that he would be considering the fact that the defendants are first-time offenders and the fact that they have been in custody for three years.

Therefore, the trial judge sentenced the defendants to two years imprisonment on each of the eight counts of the amended charge.

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