An ex-customs officer standing trial over the illegal importation of 661 pump action rifles through the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) in 2017 disclosed on Monday how he paid N1.0 million to operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) and other agencies to facilitate the release of the arms.
It was the prosecution that sparked off the drama when it played a recorded video where one of the five men, who are charged with illegal importation of the weapons alleged that N1.0 million was paid to security agencies to facilitate the release of the container of arms.
The first defendant, Mahmud Hassan the ex-customs officer, under interrogation in the office of the DSS alleged that the gang paid N1.0 million to security agents to smuggle the consignment out of Apapa Port.
Hassan made the allegation in a video played in court on Monday by the prosecution.
The video was played in a trial-within-trial to test the voluntariness of the statement made by Hassan while in the custody of the DSS.
Hassan’s lawyer, Yakubu Galadima, had, at the previous hearing, opposed the move by the prosecution to tender his client’s statement as an exhibit, contending that he was tortured to make the statement.
Justice Ayokunle Faji had then ordered a trial-within-trial to test the voluntariness of the statement.
At the yesterday’s (Monday) proceedings, the prosecution played a video of how Hassan was interrogated by DSS operatives.
The clip indicated that the interrogation was conducted on March 27, 2017, between 2.00 pm and 2.45 pm.
The prosecution tendered the video clip in court through a DSS operative, Jaiye Emmanuel.
The video captured Hassan as saying while being quizzed that, “I gave N1.0 million to facilitate the moving of the container out of the port, but it is not because of the guns,”
When Hassan was asked how the N1.0 million was shared among security agencies, the defendant said, “the examiners were given N200,000; C.I.O. N100,000; enforcement N200,000; police, SSS, between N20,000, N25,000 and N30,000; the toll gates, N200,000, exit gate, N20,000, and final gate, N50,000.”
The clip also captured Hassan telling his interrogators that he first billed the owner of the consignment N3.8 million when he was initially told that the container was laden with steel doors, but raised the cost of clearing the consignment to N4.0 million when he was told that the consignment included 661 pump-action guns.
Hassan is standing trial alongside Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, Matthew Okoye, said to be at large, and Salihu Danjuma.
They were arraigned by the Federal Government on June 14, 2017 for allegedly importing 661 pump-action rifles into the country without lawful authorisation.
In the eight charges pressed against the defendants, the Attorney General of the Federation said the defendants 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.