*97,250 rounds of 12 mm live cartridges and Barretta pistol recovered
* “We don’t know if our buyers at Onitsha Main Market are hunters or armed robbers”, suspect

By Ifeanyi Okolie

The Police at the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Adeniji-Adele, Lagos recorded a breakthrough last Monday when it intercepted a truck loaded with large cache of ammunition.

Three suspected notorious illegal arms dealers were also arrested with the truck at Shaki-Oke-Ogun border in Oyo State while they were trying to smuggle the truck into the country. At the end of the operation, 97,250 rounds of 12 mm live cartridges and a barretta pistol were recovered from the truck.

These ammunition were concealed in 32 metal drums and disguised as raw materials, hidden beneath bags of charcoal, so as to beat security checks  at the border.  The attempt failed when the eagle-eyes of operatives from FSARS who laid ambush on their route, impounded their 911 truck with Reg. No. XD749 AAA while conveying the lethal weapons.

It was gathered that the intercepted weapons which originated from Ghanaian’s illegal arms market were billed for the Main Market, Onitsha, Anambra State, where it would be disposed off to ready buyers.

Police sources alleged that one of the suspects identified as Martins Anokwa (52), said to be a big-time arms dealer and a major supplier of arms and ammunition to the South-Eastern part of Nigeria, has been on the wanted list of law enforcement agents because of his criminal activities.  Sources alleged that his cartel has been responsible for the proliferation of arms in that region which gave rise to the high case of kidnapping, armed robbery attacks and the break down of law.

Crime Alert learnt that several attempts had been made to round up all those involved in the evil menace without success.  The Police, it was gathered, carried out raids at, especially, Onitsha main market, with a view to getting them rounded up without success.

Police said the main dealers always escaped arrest.
According to sources, a formidable intelligence community was formed within the police cycles and indications emerged that a large cache of arms and ammunition were on the way through the Shaki borders.  The intelligence report also hinted that the illegal arms would be covered with charcoal which the boarder town is noted for because of the vast number of trees in their forest.  The report further disclosed that the route has been a haven for arms smugglers lately.

According to Police sources, “as soon as we received this information,  we swung into action by alerting the Shaki /Oke border surveillance team who were stationed at the border.  They also responded swiftly to it and on intercepting the truck, just as it was described, some of the accomplices who were sited at the back of the truck sensed trouble and ran away.   But the driver of the truck,  Raufu Ishola (50) from Oyo State, and his conductor Rafiu Akombi from Kwara state were apprehended and they led us to the kingpin, Martins Anokwa  who was waiting for them at an agreed spot.”

Meanwhile,  Martin who admitted ownership of the ammunition that were found concealed in metal drums, told Crime Alert that he had ventured into this illicit business recently, after a large number of his goods were seized by the customs because they were contraband.  “I was formally importing drugs from Ghana to Nigeria. I sell the drugs at the Main Market, Onitsha. And I have been on that business for a very long time.  Last year, some Custom men at the Seme border impounded my goods and I lost a lot of money.

Essen, my friend in Accra capital of Ghana, who knew me when I was trading  on drugs and how the customs impounded my goods, offered to assist. He was the one who introduced me into this business and assured me of his support in getting the goods, so that I can recover the money I lost to the customs.  He took me to UTC Market in Ghana where illegal arms and ammunitions are being traded.  He introduced me to some dealers, and they offered to supply the ammunition at a very affordable price, if only I can get them across the borders safely.

Then, I contacted this Raufu Ishola, a well known arms smuggler and both the arms dealers at Onitsha Market acknowledged him as one of the best.  He accepted my job and successfully smuggled the first batch to the country and I sold them off within a period of one month.  I returned to get more from the supplier and I have even gone three more times before I was arrested by the police.  At the Onitsha Main Market, I am not the only one trading on arms.   We sell to so many intending buyers and we can’t  say if they are hunters or armed robbers, but my intentions were to sell to hunters only.  As for the names of buyers, I don’t know all their identities, because they are so many.   I sell each of those packets of cartridges for N3000.

“Members of my family are not aware of my dealings and they might not be too happy when they learn about it.   My first child is 25 years-old.   He is an undergraduate in the university.  I will be the most disappointed when he gets the news.  I regret getting myself into this and also dragging the family name on the mud.”

The Commissioner of Police in -charge of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), Adeniji Adele Lagos Island, Jubril Adeniji who confirmed the arrest said the police force is at the top of the fight against arms proliferations within  the country.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.