Wilson Nuyila Tita, age 45, Eric Fru Nji, age 40, and Wilson Che Fonguh, age 39, may be spending several years behind bars if found guilty.
The trio is accused of conspiring and attempting to illegally export arms to Nigeria from the United States of America.
According to the US Department of Justice, District of Maryland, they are accused of committing federal crimes; 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.
“According to the four-count indictment, from at least November 2017 through July 19, 2019, the defendants conspired with each other and with others to export from the United States to Nigeria defense articles and items identified on the United States Munitions List (“USML”) and the Commerce Control List (“CCL”) without first obtaining export licenses,” the department of Justice stated.
The accused are said to have concealed firearms, ammunition, rifle scopes, and other items in an attempt to send them to Nigeria without any permit or license.
“Further, as part of the conspiracy,” the department of Justice revealed, “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 items bound for Nigeria that were intercepted included 38 semi-automatic firearms; over 35,000 rounds of ammunition; and 44 magazines.
The Justice Department adds that on the same day, “the defendants allegedly exported to Nigeria one Bushnell Trophy Rifle Optic and one Burris AR Rifle Scope, the export of which were controlled under the Commerce Control List, without first having obtained the required license or written approval from the U.S. Department of Commerce.”
If found guilty and convicted, the three accused will be expected to serve a “mandatory sentence of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy; a maximum of 20 years in federal prison each for violating the Arms Export Control Act and for violating the Export Control Reform Act; and a maximum of five years in federal prison for transportation of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.”
While the indictment does not clearly state this, it is believed the guns could possibly have been destined for Cameroon where they have ties. Reports suggest the purchase of the weapons was intended to boost the firepower of separatist fighters in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions who have been fighting government troops for the last four years.
The indictment also goes on to confirm that 7 others have already been charged with a similar offence, 6 of which have pleaded guilty and awaiting sentencing.
The separatist fighters say they want a territory of their own – Ambazonia.