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Nigerian Court Charges Iranian In Weapons Seizure

A Nigerian court has charged one Iranian and three Nigerians in connection with a weapons shipment that was seized in the port of Lagos last month.

Iranian national Azim Adhajani was charged Thursday with the attempted importation of banned firearms, and with conspiring to send the weapons to Gambia.

In an appearance before a magistrate's court, Adhajani declined to enter a plea, saying he needs his embassy to represent him.

The Nigerians charged in connection with the case - Ali Usman Abass Jega, Ali Oroji Wamakko and Mohammed Tukur - pleaded not guilty.

Nigeria's secret service says it discovered 13 shipping containers of weapons, including rockets and grenades, on October 26 in Lagos. It reported the seizure to the U.N. Security Council after a shipping company said the arms shipment originated in Iran.

United Nations sanctions prohibit Iran from shipping weapons abroad.

Nigerian officials later questioned an Iranian man, apparently Adhajani. Another Iranian wanted for questioning claimed diplomatic immunity. According to news reports, investigators believe both Iranians are members of al-Quds, an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Earlier this week, Gambia announced it is cutting all diplomatic ties with Iran. Gambia gave no reason for the move, but a former Gambian ambassador to the U.S., Essa Bokarr Sey, said President Yahya Jammeh might have acted to cover up possible involvement with the arms seized in Lagos.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.