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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Customs arraigns 2 smugglers for assault, illegal activities

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In a significant development, two suspected smugglers have been arraigned before a Federal High Court II in Abeokuta, Ogun State. The suspects, Felarun Oluwasegun and Fakorede Jelili, were charged with assault, illegal importation of foreign parboiled rice, and unlawful possession of contraband without the payment of customs duties. The incident occurred when they attacked the anti-smuggling operatives of the Ikeja Zone “A” Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) using charms and a horsewhip.

According to Assistant Legal Adviser Bar. Vivian Aigbadon, who served as the Customs’ prosecutor in the case (suit number: FHC/AB/15C/2023), the accused committed the offenses on February 21, 2023, at the Owoyele axis of Igbogila in the Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State. During the incident, they physically injured Customs officials Joseph and Echem while the officials were performing their statutory anti-smuggling duties.

The charges brought against the accused fall under Section 11(a), Cap “C45” of the Customs and Excise Management Act (C.E.M.A), making them punishable under Nigerian law. In response, the defense counsel, O.O Oyedele, requested bail for his clients, citing their health conditions resulting from injuries sustained during the altercation with the anti-smuggling operatives.

While ordering that the accused be remanded at the Correctional Services Center (CSC) within the court’s jurisdiction, Hon. Justice Adefunmilayo Demi-Ajayi, the presiding judge, adjourned the ruling on their bail applications until May 30, 2023.

In a related case, the same court adjourned the ruling on the bail applications of three other smugglers who were earlier arraigned on May 9, 2023. The accused, Ismail Shaibu Kolo, Jimoh Yakubu, and Abdullahi Muazu, were charged with forging Nigeria Customs Service documents, specifically the Exit Note declaration form: Ports & Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML) Provision Assessment form. The court postponed the ruling on their bail applications until May 24, 2023.

During the mentioning of the case, Customs’ prosecutor Bar. Aigbadon opposed the bail applications, arguing that the accused are likely to interfere with the ongoing Customs’ investigations, especially considering that other members of the smuggling syndicate are still at large. Aigbadon expressed concerns that the accused might abscond and continue to commit similar crimes.

In response, Hon. Justice Demi-Ajayi adjourned the ruling on the bail applications until May 24, 2023, taking into account the arguments presented.

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