In 2007 the UN stepped up sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme by banning its arms exports [Gallo/Getty]
A member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and three Nigerians have been charged in court for illegal arms trafficking.
The Nigerian court charged the four men on Thursday over a shipment of mortars and rockets seized in the port of Lagos in October.
Nigeria reported the seizure of the arms shipment, which had been hidden in containers of building materials, to the United Nations Security Council this month for an apparent breach of UN sanctions on Iran.
Azim Adhajani, identified in court documents as a Tehran-based businessman and member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, was charged with the importation of prohibited firearms, as was an alleged Nigerian accomplice.
The two men and two more Nigerian suspects were also charged with conspiring to re-export the illegal shipment to Banjul, Gambia. The three Nigerians, Ali Usman Abbas Jega, Ali Oroji Wamako and Mohammed Tukur, pleaded not guilty, but only one was represented in court.
"This is a matter of great national importance, and if I may add, it has international implications," Matthew Idakwo, the prosecutor, said. "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."
Hafsat Soso, the judge, said the four men would remain in the custody of Nigeria's state security service as investigations continued.
Second shipment intercepted
Another illegal arms shipment was intercepted this week whilst transiting at the Lagos port, a spokesperson of the Nigerian navy said on Thursday.
"I can confirm to you that the origin of the impounded consignment of arms, military equipment and vehicles is Belgium," Captain Kabir Aliyu told the AFP press agency.
The latest shipment - including pistols, ammunition, bulletproof jackets and other items banned in Nigeria - came from Belgium via Germany.
The spokesperson said those arrested over the illegal shipment were Nigerians, but refused to give details because of an investigation.
"They are eight heavy duty trucks painted in [military] camouflage with [the] UK flag on them," Aliyu said. "Some of them [trucks] are suspected to be carrying communication gadgets. They were alleged to be purchased from Belgium and shipped from Antwerp ... to Nigeria."
He did not give details on the identity of the ship involved or its owner.
Officials at the Belgian embassy in Nigeria were not immediately available for comments on the shipment.