2019 Elections: Managing Illegal Arms Import

2019 Elections: Managing Illegal Arms Import
Samples of the 470 pump-action rifles seizure by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), when the Customs showcased the arms at the Tin Can Customs Command

“How many thousands of lives would be saved if we enforced our immigration laws, our guns laws, and our drug laws? Public safety is not being held hostage by the ‘gun lobby,’ but by the open borders lobby and the anti-law enforcement lobby” – Jeff Sessions

As the 2019 elections draw nearer, Nigeria’s polity is expectedly heating up and the report on Thursday, last week that South Africa detained a Russian ship laden with weapons and allegedly bound for Lagos, Nigeria is cause for concern.

The vessel said to have left Madagascar was stopped near Port Elizabeth in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. “We are aware that she has dangerous cargoes – explosives and weapons – on board,” Olwethu Mdabula, spokeswoman for the Transnet state transport company told AFP, declining to give further details.

Although Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed told media he did not have any information on the issue, as at press time. This development substantiates the speculation by analysts that the polity is getting increasingly charged as the 2019 elections approach.

While the number of political parties contesting for space this time around is unprecedented as analysts have warned that having 91 political parties in a developing country like Nigeria is unhelpful to the nation’s democracy and a call to disorder; Nigeria’s problem is that each of the two major parties already believes it will win, and will question the credibility of any results that run contrary to its expectations. It is this notion that may fuel attempts at vote rigging and other fraudulent activities from both parties.

The onus rests on President Mohammadu Buhari to ensure that his administration deliver free, fair and credible elections, yet maintains a violent free polity before and after the elections.

One way to keep the polity safe is to scrutinize the items allowed into the country through the ports as most of the arms and ammunition are usually imported as the electioneering process thickens.

Recall that last month Tin Can Island Customs Command intercepted  a set of ammunitions  in two separate operations on the 9th and 10th of July, According to the Command’s PRO, the first incident was recovered at the terminal C II (Ports & Cargo) where  a 1 x 40ft container No. TGHU 60143419 which was scheduled for examination was found to contain live ammunition and Jack Knife.

Similarly, the Command during routine tally operations, while vehicles were being discharged from a vessel MV Glovis Courage Voyage No. 036, at 0330hrs of 10th July, 2018, at Five Star Logistics terminal, a black bag was found in one unpacked Ford Edge with Chassis No. 2FMDK48C98BA05947. On examination, the bag was found to contain the following; 149 rounds of 38MM Calibre Live Ammunition, 92 rounds of 9MM Calibre Live Ammunition, 2 rounds of 7.62MM Calibre Live Ammunition, 11 Cartridges of Live Ammunition, 12 expended empty shells of various Calibres and one  empty Magazine.

In 2017, 2671 pump-action rifles  were intercepted at the nation’s ports, all emanating from Turkey; a situation which led the nation’s President visit Turkey in company of the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd).

In the last two decades, in what has been described as the ‘third wave of democratization’, extensive violence continues to follow elections in sub-Saharan Africa but this unfortunate trend was commendably missing during Nigeria’s 2015 elections and the same tranquility should be sacrosanct in 2019.

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