U.S. Govt Charges Three for Attempted Illegal Arms Exportation to Nigeria

Three individuals of undisclosed nationalities have been charged by the United States federal authorities for attempting to illegally import arms to Nigeria. They reportedly made the move from between November 2017 and July 19, 2019.
The accused, said to be residents of Maryland, include Wilson Nuyila Tita, 45, Eric Fru Nji, 40 and Wilson Che Fonguh, 39. Whereas Tita is said to live in Owings Mills, Nji and Fonguh reside in Fort Washington and Bowie, all in Maryland.
While making known details of the fresh indictment on Friday, an official of the United States Attorney’s Office, Maryland, stated that the accused conspired with each other and others to export arms from the U.S. to Nigeria without authorization.
“…defence articles and items identified on the United States Munitions List, USML, and the Commerce Control List, CCL, without first obtaining export licences.”
“The defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly contributed funds for the purchase of firearms, ammunition, reloading materials and other equipment for shipping overseas,” the statement said in part.
The accused are also being charged for communicating their plans to ship the consignment using online encrypted codes to mask their illegal activities.
“As detailed in the indictment, the defendants and other conspirators concealed the firearms, ammunition, rifle scopes, and other items in heavily wrapped packages and duffle bags, and inside sealed compressor units, placing those items into a shipping container destined for Nigeria without obtaining the requisite licenses from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Commerce,” the statement added.
According to the statement, one of the accused transmitted electronic export information to relevant US federal authorities which, among others, falsely identified the identity of the export.
“one of the co-conspirators allegedly caused the submission of electronic export information to the U.S. government for the container which listed materially false information as to the identity of the exporter and the intermediate and ultimate consignee, as well as the ultimate destination of the container’s contents,” the statement said.
In particular, the statement alleged that on January 17, 2019, the accused, in conjunction with their collaborators, “…exported, attempted to export, or caused to be exported to Nigeria articles on the USML the export of which was controlled under the Arms Export Control Act, without first having obtained the required license or written approval from the U.S. Department of State, specifically: 38 semi-automatic firearms; over 35,000 rounds of ammunition; and 44 magazines.”
They are also reported to have “…exported to Nigeria one Bushnell Trophy Rifle Optic and one Burris AR Rifle Scope.” on that same said day, in addition to transporting 28 firearms with obliterated serial numbers, including 18 rifles.
They have been slammed with a four-count charge, including conspiracy, violation of the Arms Export Control Act and the Export Reform Control Act, related to the export of firearms and ammunition from the United States to Nigeria.
If found guilty, each will face a mandatory five-year sentence in a federal prison for conspiracy, another five years in federal prison for transportation of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, a 20-year maximum also in a federal prison for violation of Arms Export Control Act and Export Control Reform Act.
Seven other individuals have also been reportedly charged with related cases out of which six pleaded guilty and are currently awaiting sentencing. Both developments are coming at a time alleged illegal importation of arms and ammunition into the country is adding to the troubling level of insecurity in Nigeria.

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