The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has seized a truck carrying a container loaded with 661 pieces of pump action rifles.
The truck with registration number BDG 265 XG conveying the 1x40ft container with Number: PONU/825914/3 was intercepted along Mile 2 on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway in Lagos.
Briefing newsmen in Lagos, on Monday, the Comptroller-General of NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.) disclosed that the rifles were concealed in steel doors and other goods in the container.
Ali said that the Roving Team of the NCS Federal Operations Unit (FOU) while on patrol, intercepted the Mack truck conveying the container stocked with the rifles and it was taken to the premises of FOU Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos.
He said physical examination revealed 49 boxes containing the rifles, while three suspects have been arrested in connection with the illegal importation.
He said, “On January 22, 2017, the Roving Team of the NCS Federal Operations Unit, while on information patrol, intercepted a Mack truck with registration number, BDG 265 XG, conveying a 1x40ft container with Number: PONU/825914/3, along Mile 2 Apapa express road.
“These rifles are under absolute prohibition; therefore its importation is 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. They are: Mr. Oscar Okafor, Mr. Mahmud Hassan and Mr. Sadique Mustapha, accompanying the consignment to its destination.
“Investigation has already commenced and I have directed that the drag net should be wide enough to fish out all persons involved in the importation and clearing of the consignment.”
Apparently referencing the situation where the consignment had already been cleared at the port by Customs, Ali said: “Already, the officers involved in the clearance of this container are with the Comptroller FOU Zone ‘A’ Ikeja.”
Several cases of interception of illegal arms have been effected by NCS both at port of entry and on transit within the country, with some maritime observers hinting that many of such illegal consignments have also escaped into the country through both land borders and sea ports.
The deluge of the arms trafficking has been attributed to the fall out of regional arms conflicts in West Africa and Lybia, where weapons used in the armed struggles end up in other countries such as Nigeria with rising cases of violent crime. The developments were also inflamed by political militancy where politicians employ firearms to further their electoral campaigns, hence huge patronage and incentive for the illegal arms import business.
According Ali, yesterday’s seizure “underscores the determination of the Service to enforce all laws relating to importation and exportation of goods into and out of Nigeria thereby contributing to the economy, security and well being of the country”.