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Arms importation: Russians to be re-arraigned

13 May 2013, 16:11

Lagos-   Justice James Tsoho of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday fixed June 18 for re-arraignment of 15 Russian sailors charged with unlawful importation of arms into Nigeria.

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

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

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the planned re-arraignment was sequel to the transfer of the case from Justice Okechukwu Okeke to Tsoho.

Okeke is due to retire from service.

When the case was mentioned on Monday, the Prosecution Counsel, Mrs Hajara Yusuf, prayed the court to give the prosecution some time to amend the charge against the accused.

Hajara said that there were developments that required amendment of the charge.

NAN reports that the accused were arraigned before Okeke on Feb. 19.

They are standing trial along with their vessel, MV Myre Seadiver, on a four-count charge.

They, however, pleaded not guilty.

Okeke released them on bail to the Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, and admitted the vessel to bail in a bond of 500 000 dollars to be obtained from First Bank of Nigeria Plc.

According to the prosecutor, the Nigerian Navy arrested the Russians along with their vessel on Oct. 18, 2012, in Lagos State.

She said that they entered the Nigerian territorial waters without clearance from the Nigerian Customs Service.

The alleged offence contravenes Section 27 of the Firearms Act, Cap F 28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

It attracts 10 years imprisonment.



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