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Customs Impounds Another Container Filled With Arms, Discovers Arms Syndicate in Turkey


The Nigerian Customs Service on Thursday seized yet another 470 rifles at the Tin Can Island Port in Lagos.
This is as the service disclosed it had uncovered a Nigerian syndicate in Turkey involved in illegal arms importation.
The seizure is the second within the last two weeks. On September 11, another set of pump action rifles were intercepted. All the items were said to have come from Turkey.
The Comptroller–General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali, who disclosed Thursday that it has become worrisome for the Federal Government, said Turkey has become hot spot for the illicit trade.
Toward this end, the Federal Government and the Turkish government are meeting in Abuja to find a lasting solution to the incessant arms imports from the European country, he disclosed.
He said the new container belongs to the same importer of the 1,100 rifles seized few days ago at the port.
“The Customs’ leadership was sad because despite their previous efforts, our officers at the Tin-Island port had intercepted another 470 rifles shipped into the country from Turkey.
“The importer of this deadly cargo was Great James Oil and Gas Limited, while the vessel MV Arkas Africa owned by Hull Blyth was used in the illegal shipment of the guns into the country,” the Customs Comptroller General said.
According to Ali, the importer used the elbow plumbing plastic he declared in his Bill of Lading as a decoy to deceive the Service before the container No. CMAU189817/8 was subjected to 100 per cent examination by officers.
He said Customs officers discovered that the guns were concealed in a 20-foot container.
The guns were seized by the Area Controller, Tin-Can Island Command, Mr. Bashar Yusuf.
Ali said that all Customs Area Comptrollers have been put on red alert at all entry points into the country which includes the airports, seaport and border posts.
He said that the agency was also collaborating with the Directorate of State Service (DSS), and the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) to nip the menace at the bud.
“Now that Tin-Can Island port has become a hot spot for arms smuggling, these criminals will move elsewhere and we must be at alert”, he added
He noted that 70 to 80 percent of imported cargoes are under declared.
“Our findings have shown that this dastardly act is being committed by Nigerians and there are syndicates in Turkey that are manifesting this.
“We are yet to get the bottom of the whole thing, are these arms meant for commercial purposes, or meant to be given to a group of insurgents or agitators and kidnappers?
“That aspect of the investigation is still ongoing, the SSS and other agencies will let us know what their findings are.
“For us in the NCS, we have developed a profile and like I promised you, we are going to escalate the issue beyond the borders of Nigeria.
“Having identified the country of origin, we will not relent on making sure that we get to the bottom of why the offensive import is coming from one particular country.
“Fortunately, we have made an inroad; we will have the first diplomatic meeting with the Turkish Ambassador basically on this issue of arms import.
“Already, President Buhari had discussed this issue at an international forum and the Ambassador has been mandated to seat with us and let us find the way forward.
“Steps are being taken beyond the shores of Nigeria because we establish what is happening, why is it happening and how we can stop it.
“We want to be ahead of these criminals, we are right inside the port to tract and monitor the container right from the ship.
“We are getting more advanced and employing all the technology we have,” he said.
He disclosed that the Service has also increased and enhanced its patrol teams across the country to ensure such dangerous cargoes do not come in.
The Comptroller-General said that importation of arms or ammunition falls under absolute prohibited items, which are not allowed to be imported into the country by any individual.
He said, “Aside from arms and ammunition posing a serious challenge to national security, 80 percent of illicit goods coming into the country, which are often intercepted by Customs full under false declaration.”
He said the discovery of these 470 pump action rifles brings the number of arms seized in the last eight months to 2,671.
“Therefore, we need the best technology to detect such items, in order to prevent them from going into the wrong hands,” he added.

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