Maersk Line Limited staff, Mrs. Mercy Ebri, has told a Federal High Court in Lagos that her company was not involved in illegal shipments of 611 sophisticated pump action riffles into the country by the importer.
Ebri said this while being cross-examined by the lawyers to the defendants, who were being tried before Justice Ayotunde Faji, by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Friday. When further asked if she received any complaint in relation to the container number PONU8259143 used in bringing the riffles. She said the Customs did not give any complaints, and that was why it was loaded.
When also asked if she was officer in charge of the container that came to Apapa on February 16, 2016, she said:”We don’t monitor, Mearsk Lines don’t monitor. The contract between us was just that of carriage from container yard in Turkey to Apapa’s APM 3 Terminal, that is the contract we had with the carrier.”
Those standing trial before the court are: a shipping company, Mahmud Hassan Trading Company Limited, its managing director, Hassan Mahmud, Salisu Abdulahi Danjuma, alongside Oscar Okafor, Donatus Ezebunwa Achinulo and Matthew Okoye, said to be at large. They are facing charges bordering on illegal importation of fire arms, conspiracy, forgery and altering of documents, offering of graft to government officials and importation of prohibited goods.
The offences according to the prosecutor, Mr. Julius Ajakaiye, are contrary to and punishable under sections 3(6),1(14)(a)(I) 1(2) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. And section 98(1) (b) of the Criminal Code Act
All the accused persons except Matthew Okoye, who is said to be at large, were first arraigned before the court on June 14, 2017, on offences which bordered on illegal importation of fire arms, conspiracy, forgery and altering of documents, offering of graft to government officials and importation of prohibited goods.
AGF in charge number FHC/L/190c/17, alleged that the all the accused persons conspired with one another to illegally import into Nigeria 661 Pump Action Rifles.
The witness also told the court that the seal on the container was not broken or tampered with, adding that the container came into the country intact.
When also asked if she see any of the defendants as one of the person came for the container in her office. The witness replied that she is unable to place any faces to the documents treated in her office, as she handles over 2000 documents on daily basis.
She also told the court that upon the arrest of the container and the defendants, she was invited by the Comptroller-General of Customs and made a statement and tendered documents as par what the shipper said this container was carrying.
When asked by Ibrahim Adamu, counsel to the fifth defendant of her reaction upon being called that the container the company shipped had problem. The witness told the court that her company don’t ship but only carry.
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