20 February 2013

Nigeria: Arms Trafficking - 15 Russians Arraigned

Photo: Leadership
Court gavel

The police yesterday arraigned 15 Russians before a Federal High Court in Lagos for alleged importation of firearms and ammunition into Nigeria.

The accused persons are standing trial before Justice Okechukwu Okeke on a four-count charge, bordering on unlawful importation and possession of firearms as well as non-declaration of the content of the vessel.

The accused are Zhelyazkov Andrey, Savchenko Sergel, Chichkanov Vasily, Varlygin Igor, Komilov Alexander, Lopatin Alexey and Baranovskly Nikolay.

Others are Mishin Pavel, Llia Shubov, Dimitry Bannyrh, Alexander Tsarikov, Kononov Sergel, Korotchenko Andrey, Vorobev Mikhail and Stepan Oleksiuk.

The accused were charged together with their vessel, "Mv Myre Seadiver."

They however, pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them.

The police prosecutor, Mr Ernest Ezebilo, told the court that the accused and their vessel were arrested by naval officers on Oct. 18, 2012 within Nigerian territorial waters in Lagos State.

Ezebilo said that the accused and their vessel had entered Nigerian territorial waters without due licence and clearance from the Nigeria Customs Service.

He said the accused also refused to declare the content of the vessel, contrary to the provisions of the Customs and Excise Management Act, 2002.

Ezebilo said that when the vessel was arrested and opened by naval officers, a cache of firearms and ammunitions were concealed in it.

The prosecutor told the court that the accused were then arrested along with the vessel.

He said that the offences contravened the provisions of the Firearms Act, Cap. F28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, as well as the provisions of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap. M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Meanwhile, the defence Counsel, Mr Chukwuwike Okafor, informed the court of his pending bail application before the court supported with an affidavit and written address.

Okafor told the court that he had just filed the bail application in court and served same on the prosecution.

In view of this, the prosecutor requested for two dates within which to respond to the bail application filed by the defence counsel.

In his ruling, justice Okeke adjourned the matter to Feb. 25 for the prosecution to file a reply to the bail application of the defence counsel.

Okeke however, ordered that the accused be remanded at the Ikoyi Prison, pending the determination of their bail application.

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