The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Rtd. Col. Hameed Ali Thursday cried out over the rate at which dangerous weapons are being imported into the country in recent times.
This was as the customs boss confirmed the seizure of another container load of pump action rifles at the Tin Can Island port.
The latest discovery were 470 pump action rifles imported from Turkey.
Customs had Monday last week announced a seizure of 1,100 rifles also imported from Turkey by the same importer.
The latest importation brings to 2,671 the total number of such dangerous arms seized by the Customs in the past eight months.
Ali told newsmen that the importer of the cargo is Great James Oil and Gas Ltd, while the vessel MV Arkas Africa owned by Hull Blyth brought the cargo into the country.
The CG said that the latest discovery followed the decision of the Area Controller, Mr Bashar Yusuf to profile all imports, beginning with the importer that brought in the 1,100 rifles.
He said “following increase in the number of arms seizures in recent times, the Customs Area Controller of Tin Can Island Port ordered a detailed profile of all imports, especially those coming from the same source with previous seizures.
“The profile of containers from Turkey eventually narrowed down to one 20ft container No. CMAU18917/8. The Terminal Operator was consequently directed to quarrantine the flagged container for stricter analysis. It was later transferred to the enforcement unit, where 100 percent examination revealed 470 pump action rifles as against elbow plumbing plastics on its bill of lading. Importer of this deadly cargo is Great James Oil and Gas Ltd, while the vessel is MV Arkas Africa owned by Hull Blyth. This discovery brings to a total of 2,671 rifles seized within the last eight months of this year”.
The CG expressed surprise on what gave the importer the audacity to think that he was going to succeed in bringing in such dangerous weapons into the country.
He said that the consolation was that the new Customs Service has become more responsive and capable of meeting the challenges posed by these criminals.
The CG called on officers and other Nigerians to remain vigilant and rise up to deal decisively with the enemies of the nation.
Ali also said that with such seizures, all Customs formations will be more alert, adding that as the seaports become increasingly impenetrable, the importers may decide to try other points.
He said, “ let me assure Nigerians that the Service is presently at critical alert following my directive to all Customs Area Controllers yesterday (Wednesday). We will do all in our powers to further secure this country”.
He also said the Customs will reward all those involved in the seizures and punish those who compromise in their duties.
He added that since the latest container belongs to the same importer, the Customs will carry out investigation to fish out all those directly or remotely connected with these dangerous importers.