ABUJA, Nigeria – A Nigerian court on Thursday charged an Iranian and three Nigerians for arms trafficking in connection to an arms shipment officials seized last month at Nigeria's busiest port.
The Magistrate Court in Abuja said it had charged Iranian national Azeem Aghajani for attempting to import prohibited arms into Nigeria with the intent of sending them to nearby Gambia.
The court also charged three Nigerians, Ali Usman Abass Jega, Aliu Oroji Wamakko and Mohammed Tukur in connection to the seizure.
Aghajani said he needed his embassy to represent him before he could present his plea. The three Nigerians pleaded not guilty, but only one of them was represented in court.
The Nigerian's lawyer argued for bail, but the prosecutor contested the request.
"This is a matter of great national importance, and if I may add, it has international implications," said prosecutor Matthew Idakwo. "These arms were imported from Iran to our country. It is of great interest to the world. In fact, the United Nations has interest in this matter."
Nigeria reported Iran to the United Nations after Nigerian security officials in October seized a hidden shipment of military-grade arms that originated in Iran and passed through Nigeria's busiest port in Lagos.
Artillery rockets and other weapons, loaded in 13 shipping containers that were labeled as building supplies, were seized Oct. 26.
Magistrate Judge Hafsat Soso said the four men would remain in the custody of Nigeria's State Security Service as investigations continued.