First was the 661 pump action rifles, followed by another 440. And now a fresh consignment of 1,100rifles, a huge haul, has been intercepted by the Nigeria Customs Service and none of the cases has been unraveled.
On Monday at the Tin-Can Island Port Command of the Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), comptroller general of the service, for the third time in nine months, gleefully displayed another 1,100 units of sophisticated pump action rifles seized from unknown importers.
And as on previous occasions, the consignment was shipped in from Turkey under false declaration.
Briefing journalists, Ali who expressed concerns over the importation said that the particular seizure is the third in the series of arms seizures in the year. He explained that such importation is coming at a time when the nation is undergoing some security challenges stating that there are indeed some elements who do not believe in the unity, peace and well-being of Nigerians.
“The audacity of these criminals to think that they can succeed in smuggling such quantity of deadly weapons into the country, calls for all round responsibilities. Shipping agencies and terminal operators must wake up to support the service to nip in the bud attempts to smuggle such dangerous items into the country,” Ali said.
“NCS under my leadership will do all possible to fish out all those remotely connected with this devilish importation.
“We shall bring them to justice,” Ali said.
A similar promise of bringing the importers to book were made on the previous occasions but no breakthrough has been recorded. And some port operators are worried that the situation is yet to be unraveled.
"This regular promise of bringing the perpetrators to book is becoming routine and no longer reassuring .It is strange that for all the documentation associated with importation, the Customs is yet to identify the people behind it", a freight forwarder who preferred not to be named told Business and Maritime West Africa.
"So far, over 2,200 rifles have been intercepted within nine months. That means there is an active cell involved in gun running. The concern is that some of their deals may have escaped the net. That is why the Customs and other sister agencies must address this seriously", he said.
On efforts made by his office to intercept the container, Ali said, “I commend the operatives of the Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU) for a job well done. Seizure such as this is a testimony to the fact that a well reformed and intelligence driven Nigeria Customs Service will better serve the interests of the nation.
Ali said his management will meet with the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and Foreign Affairs Ministry to help it stem the tide of illegal importation of ammunition.
He said that the service would not only pursue the agents but would also go after the shippers and terminal operators who took custody of the consignments.
The comptroller-general commended operatives of the Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU) for discovering the rifles in spite of the false declaration.
PIX: Intercepted 1,100 Smuggled Rifles