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Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Charges Against the Iran Arms Traffickers in Nigeria

On 17 July 2010, Nigerian officials captured 13 containers of arms marked as "glass and straw" in Lagos, Nigeria; the weapons came from Iran, a well known France-based Quds front company, and were likely aimed for the Nigerian Taliban in Northern Nigeria. Iran has intervened at the high levels, including sending visitors to Nigeria. Azim Aghajani, commander of Quds in Africa was originally arrested, but was released when Iranian Officials Visited Nigeria.
The UN is conducting its own investigation.

What follows are the charges for the remaining two people in captivity. It appears one of the detainees has written a statement.


Lagos (WorldStage Newsonline)-- Justice Okrchukwu Okeke of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday admitted in evidence a state by one of the two persons, Alli Abass, Jega been trial by the Federal Government for allegedly importing thirteen container loads of firearms in tow the country from Iran.

According to the judge the accused person made the statement to the State Security Service (SSS) voluntarily.

The two men, an Iranian, Azm Aghajani and Jega, a Nigerian clearing agent were arrested last year after the arms were discovered at a port in Lagos.

It will be recalled that when the prosecuting counsel, Mrs. Olufemi Fatunde attempted to tender the document as exhibit the Thursday, Jega’s lawyer, Aliyu Musa Yawuri objected on the ground that the document sought to be tendered was not admissible in law.

The development forced the presiding judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke to adjourn the case to Friday for ruling on the admissibility of the document.

Ruling on the objection, Justice Okeke held that the document was admissible in law because the statement was voluntarily made by the second accused.

According to Justice Okeke; “it would have been a different matter if not voluntarily made, and his lawyer, Yawuri, did not deny that his client made the statement.”

Also during the proceedings Aghajani’s lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN) on Friday accused the SSS and the lawyers handling the prosecution of frustrating his efforts to defend his clients adequately by refusing to make available to him, many of the documents he intends to use in defending his client, despite repeated demands.

He stated that one of such documents was a computer print-out of an e-mail message sent to Aghajani, by Jega.

Uche also accused the SSS of denying him access to his client, stressing that this constituted another dimension of frustration.

But an attempt by Uche to move a bail application for his client was turned down by the judge, who insisted that the matter was slated for the conclusion of the prosecution’s witness testimony.

The court, however, adjourned till March 7 for hearing of bail applications.
According to the three-count charge: the accused were in

  • count one accused of importing thirteen container loads of firearms, which was prohibited under Part 1 of the Schedule to the Firearms Act, Cap F.28, laws of the Federation, 2004.
  • count two, the accused persons were alleged to have imported the firearms without licence contrary to Section 18 of the Firearms Act, Cap F.28, laws of the Federation, 2004 and punishable under Section 27 of the same Act.

  • count three, the accused were said to have recklessly made a false declaration of the firearms as glass wool and pallets of stone on the Original Bill of Lading. The offence, according to the charge, is contrary to Section 161 (1) (a) of the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap C45, laws of the Federation, 2004.

The crime was allegedly committed on July 17, 2010.

The Rest @ World Stage

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