IGP Mohammed Abubakar
By Agency Report
A London court on Friday convicted a British arms dealer of organising a big illegal shipment of weapons to Nigeria.
Gary Hyde, a 43-year-old retired British volunteer police constable, was found guilty of helping to organise illegal shipment of 40,000 AK47 assault rifles, 30,000 rifles, 10,000 pistols and 32 million rounds of ammunition from China to Nigeria.
He was convicted by a jury and will be sentenced on 23 November at the Southwark Crown Court, the same court that jailed former Delta State Governor James Ibori for defrauding Nigeria.
Hyde was specifically charged with breaching the UK’s Trade in Goods (Control) Order 2003 and concealing criminal property.
He was found guilty of both breaching the law and concealing commission payments, apparently the primary reason why the British tax authorities pursued him and that also led to the uncovering of other offences and eventual conviction.
Prosecutors said he moved the weapons from China to Nigeria between March 2006 and December 2007 without a licence and hid more than one million US dollars in commission payments.
An official of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, Peter Millroy, said: “Hyde was an experienced arms dealer who thought he could deliberately not comply with the law in order to make some extra money to hide offshore.
“He knew full well that his activity required a licence but he decided not to comply with the law, and we are delighted that after an extensive investigation he has been brought to justice”.
Hyde had earlier protested his innocence, saying in a written statement to the court: “I do not believe that I engaged in any activity in the UK which I understood to require a licence but where instead I decided to ignore that obligation”.
Weekly Trust had last January reported the collapse of his earlier trial and the decision by the British government to pursue the case again. Mr Hyde was then accused of involvement--along with his German business partner Karl Kleber--in alleged unlicensed shipment of the weapons from China to Nigeria.
But the case collapsed at the same Southwark Crown Court when the judge, Nicholas Loraine-Smith, declared “that this case has to fail in law” because the 2003 Order on which it was framed had been replaced in 2009.