The federal government Tuesday withdrew the case of illegal arms importation against nine out of the 15 Russians who were initially charged before a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Those discharged were Zhelyazkov Andrey, Savchenko Sergel, Varlygin Igor, Lopatin Alexey, Baranovskly Nikolay, Llia Shubov, Dimitry Bannyrh, Alexander Tsarikov and Kononov Sergel.
With this development, Chichkanov Vasily, Varlygin Igor, Komilov Alexander, Lopatin Alexey, Mishin Pavel, Korotchenko Andrey, Vorobev Mikhail, and Stepan Oleksiuk are now to face the criminal charge of illegal arms importation into Nigeria from Russia.
The Russians were first charged before Justice Okechukwu Okeke, but they were brought before Justice James Tsoho owing to the retirement of Justice Okeke from the Federal High Court bench.
When the matter came up for arraignment yesterday, the prosecutor, Mrs. J. I. Igurnumbe, informed the court of the new development.
She, however, did not give any reason for the sudden withdrawal of the charges preferred against the nine Russians.
The prosecutor also applied for the vessel, 'MV Myre Seadiver', used by Russians to import the arms be withdrawn from the charge and be replaced with its owner 'Moral Security Group Limited', as the vessel would be used as an exhibit in the matter.
Counsel to the accused persons, Chukwuwinke Okafor, opposed the prosecution's application on replacing the vessel with the owner in the charge.
Okafor urged the court to ignore the prosecution's application and deal with the matter before it.
Justice Tsoho, in a bench ruling, granted the request of the prosecution to withdraw the charge against the nine Russians.
The court further ordered the prosecution to serve the accused persons with the proof of evidence of the matter and fixed June 21 for further hearing.