Man convicted for illegal possession of firearms

By Godwin Edeh

A High Court sitting in Makurdi, presided over by Justice M.A Ikpambese has convicted one Mathias Alem of Gbanwuan, Kadarko in Nasarawa State for illegal possession of firearms.

The accused was arrested on 30 January, 2018 at about 7:30 pm along Makurdi- Lafia road, in possession of one locally made revolver pistol, loaded with six rounds of live ammunitions but without license punishable under section 3(1) of the firearms (special provision) Act, cap 515 laws of the federation of Nigeria.

The accused however, pleaded not guilty and told the court that he was on that fateful day given a lift by an unknown young man who agreed to drop him at Ortese using a motorcycle with a bag tied on it.

According to the accused, the police stopped them at a check point. It was in the course of searching the bag that they discovered the firearms and ammunitions while the young man took off, leaving the convict with the police.

Under cross examination by the prosecuting counsel, Sgt Tersoo Sai, the accused admitted that the statement was read to his hearing and he actually signed it, but insisted that the firearms which was marked as exhibit MOJ 4 was recovered from the motorcycle and not from his body.

However, in his submission, the principal witness 1, Inspector Bulkan Alhassan, testified before the court that the accused was arrested by  a team of Operation Zenda attached to Daudu and led by Sgt. Awua Simeon while on stop and search duty at Ortese police check point, along Makurdi – Lafia road.

They intercepted the accused and on searching him, discovered the said locally made revolver pistol loaded with six rounds of live ammunitions.

The police prosecuting officer further told the court that, all efforts on the accused person to produce license that qualified him to be in possession of the firearm proved abortive hence, he was charged before the court.

Under further cross examination by the defence counsel, C. Igbawua Esq, Inspector Alhassan told the court that he was present when Mathias Alem (the accused) in his first statement narrated how he came about the gun in 2014 on his way from Kadarko to Ikyugh when he claimed to have picked the gun from the ground with three live ammunitions.

Inspector Alhassan further submitted that, in the accused earlier voluntary statement, after picking the gun, he hid it in his house in Kadarko because of the herdsmen killings and was running away from the crises with his family when he was intercepted with the gun.

Insp. Alhassan said, according to the accused: “I only kept the gun for protection against the on-going herdsmen killings in the area since 2014,” therefore, the later statement of defense before the court during the trial is an afterthought, objected to the second statement of the accused and urged the court to disregard the statement and so the objection was upheld. The various exhibits tendered before the court were marked as exhibit MOJ 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Therefore, relying on the evidence before the court, Justice A.M Ikpambese stated that the accused was found in possession of the firearms. That the offence was within the meaning of the Robbery and Firearms (special provision) Act and that the accused has no license to posses the firearms.

According to Justice Ikpambese, “the accused has committed a heinous crime of carrying arms without license.”

He ruled that it could be for protection or contracting it to criminals or use of it to commit crimes but as a first offender and a family man, the convict is to pay the sum of N5, 000, 00 or serve a jail term of 12 months on default accordingly.

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