By Anthony Ogbonna
Turkey has denied it shipped arms to Nigeria, following the wake of frequent seizure at the Lagos Tin Can Island by the Nigerian Customs, of Pump Action riffles allegedly shipped to Nigeria from Turkey.
The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.) had disclosed at a briefing on the 21st of September, 2017 that a syndicate based in Turkey had been discovered to be behind illegal arms imports into Nigeria.
He had said that the importer of the arms haul into the country was Great James Oil and Gas Limited.
This was after the Nigerian Customs, for a fourth consecutive periods, seized container-loads of Pump Action riffles at the Lagos Tin Can port.
The Customs had first intercepted a 20-foot container load of 1,100 pump action rifles. It later uncovered yet another set of 475 rifles shipped in by the same importer.
The bill of lading of one of the containers falsely indicated the content to be wash hand basins and water closets, but a thorough examination revealed that it contained 600 pieces of Jojef Magnum Black Pump Action Rifles.
The service had in January seized 661 pieces of pump-action rifles, which were found in 49 boxes.
Yet again, the Tin-Can Island Command of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on September 21, intercepted another 2,671 pump action rifles allegedly imported from Turkey into Nigeria through profiling approach.
The Comptroller-General of NCS, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, had told journalists in Lagos on Thursday that the seizure was the fourth at the Lagos port within eight months.
But on Tuesday 26th September, 2017, Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Hakan Cakil, met with the Comptroller-General of NCS, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, where he denied that Turkey ever shipped any arms to Nigeria.
The meeting lasted for two hours at the headquarters of the Nigeria Customs Service in Abuja.
Disclosing this to newsmen, the Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Mr. Joseph Attah, said Col. Ali decried that all the arms seized were coming from one source, which was Turkey.
But the Turkish envoy, Cakil, disproved the claim, saying all the four shipments intercepted by the NCS had false declaration on their bill of lading. He said the shipments were a clear case of smuggling.
According to the statement, the Turkish envoy promised to communicate to his home country the outcome of the investigations from the NCS, adding that Turkey would not support any dangerous shipment to Nigeria.
According to the statement, “Following concerns expressed by the general public on the recent seizure of pump-action rifles from Turkey, the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria had a meeting with the management of the Nigeria Customs Service to fashion out ways of dealing with the disturbing issue.
“Following concerns expressed by the general public on the recent seizure of pump-action rifles from Turkey, the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria had a meeting with the management of the Nigeria Customs Service to fashion out ways of dealing with the disturbing issue.
“The meeting which lasted for about two hours was frank and detailed with specific commitments. The Turkish Ambassador restated his country’s support for Nigeria’s security and well being, saying that Turkey would not support any dangerous shipment to Nigeria.”
Recall that following the frequent arms seizures, the Nigerian Customs arrested and detained 28 officers working at the Tin-Can Island Command of the Service.
Reports said the officers and their civilian collaborators would soon appear in court but not until the Service has carried out a detailed and thorough investigation on the matter.