— Agency denies handling cargo
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted a cache of arms and ammunition imported through the Tin Can Port in Apapa, Lagos.
The 440 pieces of assorted pump action rifles, which originated from Turkey were concealed inside a 40-footer container with numbers PONU210024/1 22G1 carrying POP powder used in designing house ceiling.
It was the second seizure of arms of such magnitude this year. The customs had in January this year seized 661 pieces of pump action rifles, which were found in 49 boxes. The secret importation of arms and ammunition is deepening the insecurity in the country.
Displaying the guns at the Tin Can Island Command of the Customs yesterday, the Coordinator of Zone A of Customs, Assistant Comptroller-General Monday Abueh said the container was intercepted on Monday night based on intelligence obtained by the command.
He added that one suspect (name withheld) had been apprehended in connection with the seizure and the consignment transferred to the customs enforcement unit where other security agencies were invited to inspect it.
“These are pump action rifles of various designs. Based on intelligence report, the Tin Can Island Customs under Controller Bashir Yussuf, was able to identify the container and intercept it. We discovered that they used POP powder to conceal the arms in order to beat the customs checks.
“We have one defendant, but we don’t intend to detain him for long because of security reason. As of the consignee, we are still keeping the identity under wraps because investigations are still ongoing. We have about 440 pieces coming from Turkey,” Abueh said.Yusuf revealed that apart from the 440 pieces of pump action magnum brand, other accessories of the guns were found in the container.
He gave the breakdown of the seizure as 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; 164 pieces of Rifle Nozzle; 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 pieces of 50kg bags of PoP cement.
Yusuf said: “We have other accessories in this container, several parts dismantled but definitely to be reassembled. Investigations will go deeper to know where the factory for arms assemblage is located in Nigeria.
“Generally, anytime we have interceptions like this, it requires a lot of intelligence and profiling of importers. The 21st century calls for that, you don’t have to wait for things to start happening before you start working.
“POP is a very safe item to conceal weapons because it is not injurious to anyone. It was an attempt to distract the customs attention, but whatever anyone may use, it will attract our attention.”
Meanwhile, Sifax Group has denied reports that the arms were handled by its sister company, Ports & Cargo Terminal. Corporate Affairs Manager of Sifax Group, Muyiwa Akande, said: “The attention of our management has been drawn to a false report being circulated by some online news media to the effect that a container load of arms was intercepted at a subsidiary of our company, Ports & Cargo Terminal, Tin Can Island Port, Lagos.
“The news report is totally false and misleading. We enjoin members of the press to uphold the highest standards of professionalism in the discharge of their duties in order to avoid misinforming the unsuspecting members of the public,” he said.
The President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Increase Uche told The Guardian that such unpatriotic acts should be discouraged. He urged security officers to do a thorough investigation and prosecute the culprits.