The trial of five men who were accused of unlawful importation of 661 pump-action rifles into the country opened on Thursday before the Federal High Court in Lagos, with the first prosecution witness telling the court how he turned down an N8m bribe allegedly offered to him by the defendants.
The witness, Abdulahi Muhammad, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, said when his team intercepted the gang, he was offered a bribe of N8m, which he rejected.
The defendants – Mahmud Hassan, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, Matthew Okoye, said to be at large, and Salihu Danjuma – had been arraigned by the Attorney General of the Federation on June 14 before Justice Ayokunle Faji.
Muhammad, who was led in evidence by the prosecutor, Julius Ajakaye, narrated, “In January 22, 2017, I led a patrol team called ‘Lagos Roving Team’, which was headed by Adamu Abubakar.
“Around 12 midnight, we sighted a container on Apapa-Mile 2 Bridge, and we intercepted it.
“As of the time of the interception, the Customs Clearance document was not given to us by the escort. This made us to suspect the container.
“It was when they realised that the truck was heading for Ikeja, that the escort started calling the second defendant, who told the escort to give us the document.
Muhammad said the second defendant later surfaced and owned up to being the owner of the container.
According to the witness, the second defendant was restless.
He said, “Then he started to negotiate with me. He offered me N500, 000, and later increased it to N8m. I continue to listen to him and told my colleagues what he offered me.
“When I went back to him, he told me that if I did not take the money he would kill himself. I then called my boss and told him that, and my boss said if he killed himself, I should bring the container and his corpse to him.”
Further proceedings have been adjourned till Friday.
In the charges, the AGF said the accused persons brought 661 pump-action rifles into the country from Turkey through the Apapa Port in Lagos, using a 40-feet container, which they falsely claimed contained steel doors.