A Lagos Federal High Court on Friday jailed an American; Donn Perkins for six months for unlawful importation of firearms.
The American was sentenced by Justice Abimbola Awogboro, following his change of plea to the charges, last week Wednesday.
The convicted American was first arraigned before the court on May 25, on a four-count charge of unlawful importation of prohibited firearms, by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The prosecutor, Mrs. Kehinde Bode-Ayeni, had told the court that the American who claimed to be a Marine Officer in America, was arrested with the firearms, sometime in February 2023, at the Tin-can Island, Apapa, Lagos.
Some of the arms and ammunition the convict was arrested with were; one piece of 5.56mm AK47, styled rifle (Tavor) serial No. 1452 with three magazines and one drum, one piece of Ak-47 .62mm variant serial No: 9335724 with four magazines, Ruger magnum .357 Revolver with serial No. 17819337, Ruger 380 pistol with serial no; 79047837 and XD 45 pistol with serial No. BY558431 and two magazines.
Others include; a total of 1,064 rounds of 5.56mm live ammunition, 119 rounds of 357mm live ammunition, 62 rounds of.32mm automatic ammunition, 29 rounds of 9mm live ammunition, 25 rounds of AK47 7.62mm special live ammunition, 39 rounds of 22mm live ammunition, 47 rounds of 45mm automatic live ammunition, 1 round of .40mm live of ammunition, and 54 rounds of .380mm Ruger live ammunition.
The arms and ammunition according to the prosecutor were concealed the arms and ammunition in a 1x20ft Container No: TGHU0S010362 and illegally brought them into the country through Tin-Can Island, Apapa, Lagos.
The prosecutor told the court that the offence committed by the convict contravened sections section 18 and 19 of the Firearms Act, Cap F28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (As amended), and punishable under section 27 (1) (a) (lil) of the same Act.
The convict had pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned and following the arguments canvassed on his bail application by his lawyer and the prosecutor, the court ordered for the accelerated hearing of the matter, while also remanded him in custody.
However, at the resumed hearing of the charges last Wednesday, the convict signified his intention to charge his plea.
Sequel to the convict’s intention, the court ordered that the charges be re-read to him so that his plea could be taken again.
Following his guilty plea to the charge, the prosecutor, Mrs. Bode-Ayeni, called a witness, who narrated how the convict was arrested with the prohibited weapons and tendered all the confiscated weapons.
Consequently, the prosecutor urged the court to convict and sentence him owing to his plea, coupled with the testimony of the witness and exhibits tendered. And in accordance with section 356(e) of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
However, his lawyer, Dr. Sheriff Adesanya, in his allocator urged the court to be lenient with his client, having pleaded guilty to the charge without wasting the time of the court.
He said: “the convict has pleaded guilty to the offence of not declaring his firearms, thereby not wasting the time of the court.
“I humbly submit that the convict is a 38-year-old US citizen, who decided to trace his roots back to Nigeria and he was misguided. While ignorant of the law is not an excuse. In fact, he is a US Marine, who procured required permit to have these firearms.
“His failure to declare the weapons has made him to lose his family, as his wife is now filing a divorce due to this charge.
“I urged the court to take into consideration the six months spent in custody.”
Also, the convicted American, while begging the court for leniency said: “I just want to use the weapons to protect myself and my family, that is how we were trained in the US.
“I came in last year and spent three weeks, then, I came back this year. I just don’t know how to go about it in getting it registered.
“I urged the court to show me mercy, I don’t have any negative intent, and if I have may God strike me dead. I just bring it in to protect myself and my family.”
In sentencing the convict on Friday, Justice Awogboro after legally weighing all the submissions made by parties, and citing plethoras of legal authorities, sentenced the convict to six months imprisonment.
The judge held that the period of the jail term commences from the date the convict was arrested.