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Published On: Tue, Jan 31st, 2017

Nigerian Panic Over Customs’ Seizure Of 661 Pump-Action Rifles

LAGOS JANUARY 31ST (URHOBOTODAY)-– As the nation reels under the weight of arms proliferation leading to various insurgencies, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Monday said it intercepted a Mack truck carrying a container loaded with 661 pieces of pump action rifles illegally smuggled into the country through one of the Lagos ports.
Security experts feared that if the quantum of weapons intercepted had scaled through, the country would have been in dilemma.

The truck marked BDG 265 XG conveying 1x40ft container No. PONU/825914/3 was intercepted along Mile 2 Apapa Road on Sunday, January 22, 2017.
The manifest that followed the truck stated that it carried steel doors before Customs officials discovered otherwise.
Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.), Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), who addressed newsmen on Monday in Lagos said three suspects have been arrested in connection with the seizure.
The Customs boss gave the names of the suspects as Oscar Okafor, a 51- year-old importer; Mahmud Hassan, 56, a clearing agent and Sadique Mustapha, 28, who was accompanying the consignment to its destination.
Ali said investigation had commenced, adding that he had directed that the dragnet should be wide enough to fish out all persons involved in the importation and clearing of the consignment including all the Customs officers who have hands in the documentation and the clearing processes that led to the exit of the consignment from the port.
He, however, confirmed that, already, the officers involved in the clearance of the container have been arrested and detained at the Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ Ikeja of the service.
“On Sunday 22nd January 2017, the roving team of the NCS Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’, Ikeja 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 Road. The truck was immediately taken to the premises of FOU A, Ikeja, where physical examination revealed 49 boxes containing a total number of 661 pieces of pump action rifles concealed with steel doors and other merchandise goods.”
Col. Ali said the rifles were under absolute prohibition, adding that its importation was illegal.
“Such deadly contravention of the law is even more unacceptable considering the fragile security situation in some parts of the country”, he said.
According to him, the 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 wellbeing of the country.
He called on all well meaning Nigerians to support the service with information that could assist the service perform the statutory responsibilities in the interest of the nation.
“This feat is no doubt commendable and represents the new norm in the service where most officers and men are on daily basis ensuring that illegalities are not allowed unchecked”, he said.
While fielding questions on the country of origin, the CGC said that consignment originated from China but took off from another country in disguise.
Reacting to the development, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, former Commissioner of Police, bemoaned the insecurity in the country.
Tsav said that it could have caused a lot of problem in the country had the NCS not intercepted the lot.
The former police boss, who commended the NCS for the feat, said that the government knows those who are importing these illegal arms and ammunition.
He advised that the government and security agencies should go after them, arrest them and charge them to court as a deterrent to others, saying that there should not be any sacred cow.
Tsav warned that with this kind of development, if there is any arms conflict or violence in this country, the country would break up.
“I am praying that what is happening in Somalia and Rwanda will not happen in this country”, he said.
Dr. (Otunba) Patrick Hebrew Keku, Chairman, Pahek Security Services, was stunned with the quantum of weapons intercepted by the Nigeria Customs Services, saying that if the rifles had scaled through, the country would have been in dilemma.
Keku, who was worried that people want to destabilise this country, called for vigilance by all and sundry to keep the country and its citizens safe.
He admitted that the country is not stable. He said that all should be very suspicious of one another if people must be at alert to the responsibility of security of the nation.
“We are only lucky that the 661 rifles were intercepted. Do you know how many of these have beaten the security agents and come into the country? We are not safe at all.”

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