*Customs officer, clerk arrested
*Ports operators, shipping companies to face sanction
11 September 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — Operatives of the Tin-Can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, NIS have smashed a syndicate that specialized in smuggling weapons into the country, discovering 1,100 pump action rifles loaded in a 20-foot container.
The weapons during a preliminary investigation were discovered to have been imported from Turkey. They were concealed in a container which Bill of Laden indicated that the contents were, wash hand basins and water closets.
But the bubble burst during a routine monitoring at the terminals, when most of the supposed wash hand basins were discovered to be weapons.
This is the third time containers loaded with weapons would be intercepted by the Customs, between February and September 2017. The first arrest was in February 2017, with the recovery of 661 pump action rifles, while the second was in May 2017 with the discovery of 440 pump action rifles.
Customs officer, clerk arrest
Briefing journalists yesterday on the discovery, the Controller General of Customs, Col. (rtd) Ahmed Alli, disclosed that already, a Customs officer suspected to have cut the seal of the container without following due process had been arrested in connection with the discovery. A clerk at the command, according to him was arrested alongside the officer.
He explained that the container with number GESU2555208 which was never listed for examination was discovered to have been positioned with other containers for examination.
On further observation, Alli disclosed that the seal on the container was discovered to have been broken, indicating that it was positioned for examination.
He said: At this point, the container became suspicious and had to be immediately transferred to the Enforcement Unit.
The Bill of laden falsely indicates the content to be wash hand basins and water closets but a thorough examination revealed that there were 600 Jojef Magnum Black Pump Action Rifles; 300 pieces of Jojef silver Pump Action Rifles; 200 pieces Jojef Magnum Plastic Single Barrel Hunting Gun Pump Action Rifles. The container was conveyed in MV Bella Shuttle vessel of 01-01-2017”.
He noted that the importation of the rifles at a time when the nation was undergoing some security challenges was an indication that “there are indeed some elements who do not believe in the unity, peace and well being of Nigerians”.
Port Terminals, Shipping companies to be sanctioned.
He threatened that henceforth, shipping companies, as well as port terminals, would be held responsible for any discovery of such cargo. The companies according to him would be made to explain how the weapons found their ways into their terminals and allowed such offensive weapons in their vessels.
On the part of the Customs, he said that stiffer penalty would be meted to any of its officers found to have connived to perpetrate illegality.
As a first step, he disclosed that “already, an officer of the service alleged to have authorised the cutting of the seal and the terminal clerk have been arrested and are undergoing investigation.
Also, those involved in the previous discoveries have been dismissed from the service and are currently facing criminal charges. We will begin to parade erring officers in order to serve as a deterrent to others. NCS under my leadership will do all that is possible to fish out those remotely connected to this devilish importation and bring them to justice.”
Commending operatives of the Customs Intelligence Unit for the seizure, Alli noted that “seizure such as this is a testimony to the fact that a well informed and intelligence driven Nigeria Customs Service will better serve the interests of the nation”, adding that “officers behind the previous seizures were promoted to the next rank, to acknowledge what he described as their good work.