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Illegal Arms Possession: Nigeria Drops Charges Against Russian Sailors!


A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Tuesday dismissed the charges filed against 8 of the 15 Russian seamen arrested last October for alleged illegal arms possession. The court however ruled that the remaining seven would face the court later this week.
The sailors were apprehended aboard a vessel, MV Myre Seadiver, which was seized off the coast of Lagos by a naval patrol. The vessel belongs to Moran Group, a security firm based in Moscow. The 15 crew members were subsequently detained.
The weapons found in possession of the sailors included 14 AK-47 rifles with 3,643 rounds of ammunition and 22 Benelli MR1 rifles with 4,955 rounds of ammunition.
The court was told that the suspects were innocent as the ship was contracted to provide security to vessels in the region, sequel to pirate attacks which were becoming a regular occurrence then.
The defence counsel also claimed that permission was sought and secured before the vessel entered Nigeria’s territorial waters.
While delivering the ruling, Justice James Tsoho said “the charges against eight of the accused are hereby struck out following an application by the prosecution to withdraw the charges against them.”
The other seven will however appear before the court on Friday.
Abubakar Unegbu, the defence counsel disclosed tha the charges against the eight were dropped because there was “overwhelming evidence” that they came to Nigeria legally. He stated that “the eight are innocent of the charges of illegal entry into the country. They were given visas to enter Nigeria by the Nigerian embassy.”
The suspects had been released on bail in February following a written commitment by the Russian ambassador in Nigeria to produce them on demand.

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