By Godwin Oritse & Godfrey Bivbere
Customs arrests one suspect, pledges to unmask importers
LAGOS—BARELY three months after the interception of over 600 arms on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, the Tin-Can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, yesterday, intercepted another 20-foot container laden with 440 guns of various sizes and designs.
Disclosing this to newsmen in Lagos, Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs, Monday Abueh, said the offensive cargo was shipped from Turkey, adding that a suspect had been arrested in connection with the arms import.
Abueh said: “Right in my hand is a sample of pump action of various designs. Based on intelligence report, this command identified the container and the container was intercepted even before declaration.
“On opening the container, we discovered that they used POP powder to conceal the importation but based on intelligence report, we were able to know that the container was laden with arms. The particulars of the consignee are still being kept under wraps for security reason.”
The consignment, according to the Zonal Co-ordinator of Zone ‘Á’ of Customs, was declared as white cement to cover up the illicit import.
Consignment discovered at bonded terminal
Vanguard gathered that the container with number PONU 210024, was discovered at the Zenith bonded terminal on Monday, from where it was moved to the command’s enforcement unit, yesterday.
Abueh said the seizure was based on intelligence reports, adding that investigation into how the consignment got into the country and who was behind the import was ongoing.
The arms include 100 pieces of Black Tornado single barrel rifles; 75 pieces of silver magnum single barrel rifles; 50 pieces of alter pump action rifles; 215 pieces of black single barrel rifles; and 164 pieces of rifle nozzles.
Others are 103 pieces of arms grips; 110 pieces of trigger, 113 pieces of arm guard, 107 pieces of bridge block; 122 pieces of Allen keys, 117 pieces of assemble butt and 516 (50kg) bags of POP powder.
Speaking on the development, the command’s spokesman, Mr. Uche Ejieseme, said investigation into owners of the consignment would continue, after which the container will be handed over to the relevant authorities.
He said further profiling of the importer would be carried out to get more details on previous shipments by the importer.
‘Self-determination groups may be culpable’
Speaking on the discovery, Dr. Zeb Ikokide, Vice Chairman of the Port Facility Security Officers Forum of the Lagos Maritime Security Zone, said the frequent import of arms and ammunition into the country might be in connection with all sorts of agitations in the country.
Similarly, the General Manager in charge of Security at the Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA), Col Jamil Tahir (retd), said the frequency with which arms and ammunition were illegally imported was not good for the country.
According to him, the government needs to checkmate the illicit importation of these weapons from source.
He was of the opinion that people who do bad businesses could be behind the imports.
“A situation where everybody in the country is armed does not augur well for the security of the nation and her people,’’ he said.
Recall that four Customs officers were arrested when the agency intercepted about 661 pump action rifles in Apapa ports.
Although, Vanguard could not ascertain what became of the officers after their arrest, management of the Nigeria Customs Service advised people to desist from conniving with criminals to ship in offensive cargoes into Nigeria.
Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali had said the importation of such items were under absolute prohibition, and therefore illegal.
“Such deadly contravention of the law is even more unacceptable considering the fragile security situation in some parts of the country.
“Already three suspects have been arrested in connection with this illegal importation,” News Agency of Nigeria quoted the comptroller-general as saying.