‘Who Are The Importers?’ — Nigerians Challenge Customs To Reveal Identities Of Owners Of 844 Rifles, 112,500 Live Ammunition Worth N4bn

On Monday, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) revealed the interception of illegal importation of 844 rifles and 112 Live ammunition with a duty-paid value of over N4.1bn, however, Nigerians have expressed dissatisfaction over the service’ choice to conceal the identities of the real importers.

The seized items, concealed in a 40-foot container of furniture, bags etcetera, were handed over to the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW), which revealed plans to destroy them, pursuant to Section 17 of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

Article 17 (Paragraphs 1 & 2) of The ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunitions And Other Related Materials states:

The NCCSALW noted that the items would be documented, pursuant to Section 18 of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, before they are destroyed.

Documentation here means, taking stock of its classic marking including its serial number, the manufacturer’s identity and country and year of manufacture, purchaser’s identity and the country of destination.

On Monday, Nigeria Customs, while unveiling the seized items at its Onne Port in Rivers, only provided the 40-foot container’s serial number: MAEU165396 and where it originated from — Turkey.

The Service, however, left out other classic marking details, but noted the arrest and detention of three suspects in connection to the case; the sanction of customs officers found complicit in the case and the suspension of licences and permits issued for the operation of warehouses and terminals and customs agents involved in the case.

This appeared unsatisfactory to Nigerians who demanded the identities of the importers and their arrest. Those who demanded further information on the matter took to X and Facebook to express their views.

To Tarig Abdulazeez on X, talks of just suspending and withdrawing the licences of all involved parties were inadequate. He said, “Why is this always the new after this nothing will happen, go back to business as usual, who is the cargo company that cleared the container? Destination of the container…”

Ay Ogunlana on X, asked the Customs when it intended to arrest the owners. He said, “When will you “Intercept ” the owner(s) of the consignment? Not the errand boys.” While Maojawo insisted that “There is no way this consignment is not attached to someone.

“Understandably that investigation should be on, but preliminary information released should contain the identity of the shipper and designated receiver of the container.”

Also, Ventim Nantur on X, expressed concern that the nation is “preparing for war”. He noted that the nation’s “intelligence units must do all it can to help the Nigerian Customs in this fight because I think it’s now getting out of hand.”

A similar view from Mahammed Oluwanisola on X, said, “It is just safe to say Nigeria is sitting on a time bomb, because how will anyone import this number of ammunition when the nation is not in war or preparing for a war.”

Conversely, Grand Masta commended the NCS for such seizure but advised, “It is wiser to integrate the arms and ammunition into the national security architecture to boost the firepower the security agencies.”

Reactions trailing the destruction of the seized items on THE WHISTLER’s Facebook page further showed more Nigerians have demanded the NCCSALW to put the arms to good use instead.

The reactions below were extracted from the comment section of THE WHISTLER’s report on the development.

Abiodun Adeyinka said, “So military, paramilitary and Police don’t need these guns (sic), I can’t understand this Nation. Obasanjo regime burnt textile seized while homeless and Old people homes scattered all over Nigeria. This Nation is a scam.”

Ayatu Ibrahim said, “We have local security outfits who help our security personnel to curb criminals’ hideouts, why can’t the government distribute firearms to them? Some areas where soldiers and police can’t dare, are being penetrated with the help of those local securities.

“Just like ebube agu of south east, amotekun of south west, endaban of north south. Even we has hunters as well and isbau (sic).”

Abbas Yamsat said, “Funny people indeed am seeing vagabonds in power. destroy what? Instead of destroying it pls kindly sell it back to the point of purchase so we can use the money to settle some lacuna in the country (sic).”

While Mondilla Eketu said, “They don’t want to destroy it; they want to take bribes and release it back to the owners and give us audio publication of destroying it. The more you look the less you see.”

The Nigeria Police Force in the first year of the Bola Tinubu administration said it recovered 2,566 firearms and 19,510 rounds of ammunition. On February 16, 2023, the police handed over 3,980 arms, 2,358 ammunition and 1,057 cartridges to the NCCSALW.

On November 24, 2021, the NCCSALW said it destroyed 3,000 illicit weapons at the Nigerian Army Command Engineering Depot, Rigachikun Kaduna State.

The NCCSALW, established on May 3, 2021, in line with the Article 24 of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons has the mandate to staunch the flow of illicit arms and enhance the security framework of our nation through rigorous control measures, strategic partnerships and comprehensive policies.

Back to top button