By Evelyn Usman
Operatives of the Intelligence Response Team ,IRT of the Nigeria Police Force have smashed a syndicate that specialized in illicit sales of explosives and ammunition to Cameroonians in the ongoing crisis between the separatists and Cameroonian government , arresting two suspected members of the syndicate.
The arrest of the suspects : a Nigerian and Cameroonian, followed a directive by the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, to Commander of the IRT, DCP Tunji Disu and other commanders , to swoop on any individual or group exploiting the crisis in Cameroon for selfish gain, through sales of arms .
One of the suspects, Obi Ndifon Bate , a Cameroonian farmer , from Nmojosob Division in Cameroon, was arrested in Nigeria, alongside the suspected leader of the gang, Ntui Lambart Assam, from Ntui Local Government Area of Cross Rivers state.
Thirty-eight-year-old Bate, who claimed to be a registered member of the United Nations, however, denied culpability of the crime during interrogation. He stated rather that he was found in the company of Asam, when the police stormed his Cross river abode.
According to him, “ I am a farmer. I only come to Nigeria to do menial jobs. I was arrested alongside my cousin, Nkom Asam. I went to Calabar to collect money from my cousin. My wife was pregnant and the baby died inside of her. I am aware that my cousin is into the business of selling dynamite. He sells them to Cameroonians but I was not involved in the business. I was only unfortunate to be around when IRT men came for his arrest”
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On his part, the main suspect popularly known as General Assam Lambert Ntui(Black Mamba)of Manyu, disclosed during interrogation that he was introduced into the illicit business by a friend, two years ago.
According to the 40-year-old father of five,“ I was introduced to this business of selling dynamite by a friend I met in Ikom, who lives in Jos. When we met, we were discussing the crisis going on in Cameron. He said I should contact him if the fighters needed ammunition. I contacted him first, in 2019 and I sent him money for the explosives .
“I don’t know where he gets those things from. I only contacted him when I needed them. The explosives did not come regularly, they came every five months.
“They were transported by road, through truck drivers. I don’t know the faces of the drivers that brought them because they always wore masks and the explosives and ammunition were well wrapped during delivery.
“ Cameroonian boys gave me money to buy explosives in bulk for them. They paid between N70,000 and N80,000 for them . The explosives are for the fighters in Cameron to face the crisis in their Country. I am paid between N20,000 to N30,000 for the job.
“When I was arrested in my house in Calabar by the IRT men, I was taken to a bar I manage in Ikom ,where they discovered some dynamites in my custody”, he stated, adding that he was burnt when one of the explosives blew up.