By Oyeniyi Iwakun
Following the recent interception of one thousand and one hundred (1100) smuggled riffles imported from Turkey at the Tin Can Island Port, Lagos, the National President, Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, Chief Olabintan Famutimi has called on the Federal Government to demand an explanation from Turkey.
Chief Famutimi who expressed displeasure over the Federal Government’s inaction despite realizing that the three consecutive batches of illegal arms (guns) totaling two thousand two hundred and one (2,201) seized rifles came in from Turkey, stressed that since there were international rules forbidding such acts, Nigeria should be bold enough to ask questions.
“To my surprise I have not seen where the Nigerian government is asking Turkey to explain the reason why a lot of these arms and ammunitions are being shipped from Turkey. The insecurity is exacerbated because when arms come in, you don’t finish eating them because they are not consumables. The new ones are coming in to meet those ones on ground. The ones in the wrongs hands for years are still there. So the more you get them in, the worse the situation in Nigeria.
“There are international rules for everything and the question would be whether they are enforced or not. There is no legitimate trade between two countries that are not guided by some laws but when you are having such situations of smuggling where the Turkish government and Customs might not be involved, I am surprised Nigerian government is not asking questions.” Chief Olabintan said.
Meanwhile, the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) while showcasing the seizures said the discovery was made when a 20ft container numbered GESU2555208 concealed with arms inside water closets and wash hand basins that wasn’t listed for examination was positioned among other containers for the day’s examination on 6th of September, 2017.
Ali said “the seal of this unlisted container had been cut and padlocked. The container became a suspect and had to be immediately transferred to the Enforcement Unit. The bill of lading falsely indicates the content to be wash hand basins and water closets but thorough examination the following day 7th September 2017, revealed; Jojef Magnum Black and silver Pump Action Rifles (600pcs) and (300pcs) respectively, and Jojef Magnum Single Barrels Hunting Gun Pump Action Rifles (200pcs) conveyed by the Vessel MV Bella Shuttle of 01-01-2017.”
While condemning the illicit acts the CGC said the importation of 1100 rifles at a time when the nation is undergoing some security challenges is a pointer to the desperation of some unscrupulous elements who do not believe in the unity, peace and well being of Nigerians noting that the seizure marked the third in series of arms seizures from Turkey within eight months of the year 2017.
Comptroller Ali who announced that a Customs Officer alleged to have authorized the cutting of the seal and the terminal clerk had been arrested and undergoing investigation also assured that Customs under his leadership would clamp down on all smugglers and would utilize all possible mechanisms to fish out all those connected to the devilish importation.
“We shall bring them to justice. As you may already be aware, the two previous cases of 661 Pump Action Rifles from Apapa and 440 Pump Action from this command seized earlier this year are already in court. We look forward to justice being served to deterrent and other would be arm smugglers.
In his concluding remark, the Customs Boss commended the operatives of the Central Intelligence Unit (CIU) for the job and promised that the present management of NCS will continue to reposition and fine-tune operational strategies of the service in-line with the Federal Government’s drive towards new and better ways of serving Nigerians.
“Seizures such as this are testimonies to the fact that a well reformed and Intelligence driven NCS will better serve the interests of the nation.
Comptroller-General Ali also thanked the media for their support and urged them to continue to inform and educate citizens on the dangers of smuggling to the security and well being of Nigerians.
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