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Friday, December 24, 2010

UN sending Panel to Nigeria to Investigate Iranian Arms Dealer Azim Aghajani

THE United Nations is sending an eight-man team to Nigeria in the third week of January over the arms shipment intercepted from Iran, a senior official has said.

The UN panel of experts on Iran is expected in the country on January 18 for a three-day working visit, the official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

The panel’s earlier request to visit Nigeria this month was not cleared from Abuja due to administrative reasons, the official said.

Yesterday, Iranian businessman Azim Aghajani, who is facing trial along with three Nigerians over the importation of the illegal arms into Apapa port in Lagos, was granted bail by an Abuja High Court.

The Nigerians on trial with him are Ali Abbas Jega, Aliyu O. Wamako and Muhammed Tukur Umar.

They were arraigned before a Magistrate’s Court which remanded them in SSS custody.
The Iranian, on Dec 16, approached the court through his lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN), for bail, relying on sections 341(2) and (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code; and Section 35 (4) 39 of 1999 Constitution.

He also prayed that the bail be sustained, pending his trial by the court.
Granting the bail application, Justice Ishaq Bello held that since the prosecution failed to file a counter affidavit to the application, there was no basis denying the accused bail.

He ordered him to produce two sureties in the sum of N20 million each.
The sureties must be citizens of Iran and officials of the embassy.

The eight-man UN panel was appointed last month by the UN Secretary-General to monitor states’ implementation of the sanctions against Iran.
Nigeria’s Maj-Gen. Ishola Williams is a member of the panel, which is coordinated by Salome Zourabichvili of France.

Other members of the panel expected to visit Nigeria are Jonathan Brewer from the UK, Kenichiro Matsubayashi from Japan and Jacqueline W. Shire from the United States.
Also on the team are; Elena Vodopolova from Russian, Christof Wegner from Germany and Wenlei Xu of China.

The panel while in Nigeria will meet with officials of some key government agencies involved in the investigation.
They will also inspect the seized cache of arms.
Nigeria reported Iran to the UN in November after security agents intercepted weapons hidden among building materials on a ship docked in Lagos in October.
Four persons, including one Iranian, were arrested and charged to court over the seized weapons.
The weapons include assorted calibers of mortars and 107 mm rocket launchers, designed to attack static targets and used by armies to support infantry units.

The Rest @ The Nation

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