Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted 1,100 pump-action rifles of different types, concealed in a 20 feet container. The latest interception at the Tin Can Port, Lagos, was the third this year. On March 10, 2017, Customs intercepted 661 pump-action rifles and on May 23 another 440 rifles were intercepted. The container, loaded with 661 rifles, was intercepted along the Apapa-Oshodi expressway after it was duly cleared from the Tin Can Port but the other two were intercepted before they were cleared from the Tin Can Port. While the latest seizure came from Turkey, others came from China.
Addressing newsmen, yesterday, the Controller-General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), said that the consignment was concealed in a container, number GESU2555208, and the bill of lading falsely indicated the content to be wash-hand basins and water closets. He explained that the culprits of the previous seizures were on trial and the Customs officers involved have been dismissed.
The types of rifles, he said, include Jojef magnum black pump-action (600 pieces), Jojef Magnum silver pump-action rifles (300 pieces) and Jojef Magnum plastic single-barrel hunting gun pump-action rifles (200 pieces).
Ali disclosed that what aroused the suspicion of officers was that the container was not originally listed for examination but was positioned with other containers for the day’s examination and its seal was already cut and padlocked.
This made the examination officers to immediately transfer the container to the enforcement unit, where examination revealed its illicit contents.
One officer of the service alleged to have authorised the cutting of the seal and the terminal clerk have been arrested and are under interrogation.
“NCS, under my leadership, will do all that is possible to fish out all those remotely connected to this devilish importation. We shall bring them to justice,” the CG vowed.
Being the third arms seizure in eight months, the Federal Government, Ali said, has devised a means whereby both the shipping agencies and the terminal operators would be accountable.
Ali said: “These arms are semi-automatic that can make humans or place to become history and desolate. The container contains 1,100 pieces of pump-action rifles under the guise of wash- hand basins for Nigerians. Most times, we travel by road and kidnappers and robbers can get hold of these easily and unleash terror with them.
“The steps we have taken have gone beyond fishing out the importers and shippers, because it is a known global shipping process that there is no way you can onboard your ship without knowing the content of the container.
“We will effect the law on shippers to either block them completely until they become compliant or detain them (ships), as the case maybe. The seizure of 1,100 rifles in a time that Nigeria is going through security challenges is dangerous. This is the third arms seizure within this year,” Ali said.