Following interceptions of arms imported from Turkey at Tin Can Island Port, Lagos, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Thursday said the Federal Government will today hold a meeting with the Turkish ambassador to Nigeria to find a lasting solution to illegal shipment of arms from that country.
This is coming as Customs on Thursday confirmed that another cache of arms were intercepted at Lagos port.
Newsdirect had reported on Wednesday that Customs discovered a cache of arms at the weekend.
At a press briefing in Lagos on Thursday, Ali said the seized arms were 470 pump action rifles and originated from Turkey just like the previous ones.
It would be recalled that Customs on September 11 intercepted 1,100 pump action rifles smuggled into the country from Turkey.
On May 23, Customs also announced the seizure of a cache of arms, 440 rifles, imported from the same Turkey in Lagos.
In January, Customs also seized 661 firearms on Apapa Road, Lagos, which were in truck headed for unknown destination.
The present development brings to a total of 2671 pump action riffles seized within the last eight months from Turkey alone.
The comptroller general confirmed that investigation has shown that there is a syndicate of Nigerians resident in Turkey behind these illegal imports.
Following the seizure, Ali said all the Customs operations across the country had been put on red alert, adding that when the criminal syndicate discovers that bringing the illegal goods through Tin Can Port was no longer achievable, they will divert to other ports.
The fresh 470 pump action riffles, according to NCS, was imported by Great James and Oil Gas Limited with vessel tagged MV Arkas Africa owned by Hull Blyth.
The CG said the seizure was narrowed to one container no. CMAU189817/8 after the terminal operator was quarantined where the examination revealed 470 pump action riffles as against elbow plumbing plastics on its bill of lading.
“We must rise up and remain vigilant to deal decisively with enemies of the nation. The policy of reward for good deeds and punishment for those who compromise will continue in the service under my leadership.
“Tomorrow (today) we will be having a diplomatic meeting with the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria. The president has discussed the issue at the international level”, the CGC said.
“I call on well-meaning Nigerians to support the service by providing information that will help us perform even better”, Ali pleaded.
The Customs boss said that as part of the reward to the eagle-eyed officers who intercepted the first and second consignment of arms, they have been promoted with the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Security experts, who spoke to INDEPENDENT over the hauls, applauded Customs for the interceptions.
They linked the development to the 2019 general election, saying that politicians could have been behind the arms importations to use them to unleash terror on the people during the elections.
Patrick Keku, Chairman/CEO, Pahek Security Services Ltd, Lagos, while commending NCS officials for being able to intercept the rifles, however, maintained that those behind the importation of the arms could be targeting to use them during the 2019 elections.
Tanwa Ashiru, Chief Executive Officer, Bulwark Intelligence, Lagos, also commended the Customs, saying that the haul showed that the anti-smuggling agency had been trying it best to tame the activities of smugglers.
Ashiru, a U.S Air Force veteran with over 12 years of experience in All-Source Intelligence and counter improvised explosive device (CIED) analysis, said the Customs should do more in the area of keeping tab on criminalities at the nation’s various borders.
Ashiru, who has a Masters of Arts in Intelligence Analysis with American Military University and has been involved in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in support of Multi-National Forces in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa, said that more emphasise should be given to the borders for the nation’s security.
Nelson George of the Department of State Security Service (DSS), Lagos, also applauded the efforts of the Customs, but he traced the importation to the build-up to the 2019 general elections.