14 May 2013

Nigeria: Iranian, Nigerian Jailed 17 Years for Arms Import

Photo: Daily Trust
Iranian man arrested for arms smuggling

A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday sentenced Iranian man Azim Aghajani and his Nigerian counterpart Ali Jega to 17 years imprisonment each for unlawful importation of firearms into Nigeria.

The accused were convicted in a five-count charge of importation of 13 by 20 feet container loaded with firearms and explosives, and concealing the content of same.

Justice Okechukwu Okeke, in his judgment, said it was not in doubt that the accused imported the containers loaded with firearms into the country.

He said the prosecution led enough evidence to prove that the accused shipped the consignment into the country and it did not contain building materials for shipment to the Gambia as they claimed.

Okeke also said the prosecution succeeded in tendering before the court, email transactions between the accused."I sympathise with the second accused person on the role he played because he thought he was helping his friend," the judge said.

A Lagos Federal High Court yesterday sentenced an Iranian, Azim Aghajani to 17 years imprisonment for illegally importing 13 containers load of firearms and explosives into Nigeria from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

His Nigerian accomplice, Ali Jega, also bagged same jail term.

Justice Okechukwu Okeke sentenced Aghajani and Jega to 17 years imprisonment each after declaring them guilty as charged.

He ruled that the jail term would run concurrently and would start to run from January 2011, when the convicts were first arraigned.

Okeke said the prosecution was able to tender an email between Aghajani and Jega, thereby putting a lie to the claim by Jega that he knew nothing about the deal.

"Again on the claim that the consignment was for military training in Banjul, the prosecution tendered a statement from the government of The Gambia where they dissociated themselves from the deal. If the goods were actually meant for trans-shipment, there is no way it could not have been stated on the bill of lading," he said.

Both convicts were first arraigned in January 2011. They were re-arraigned on March 17 of the same year on an amended five count charge.

They were said to have conspired to import the said consignment to Nigeria without license contrary to the law. That offence carries life imprisonment subject to the discretion of the court.

Meanwhile, a Lagos Federal High Court, presided over by Justice James Tsoho yesterday fixed June 18 for re-arraignment of some Russian sailors charged with unlawful importation of arms to Nigeria.

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.

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