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Arms shipment: Nigeria under threat from Turkey ―Customs

By Tola Adenubi - Lagos
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THE Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Col Hamid Alli (Rtd) on Thursday raised the alarm that with the quantum of arm being shipped illegally into Nigeria from Turkey, it is evident that Nigeria is under threat.

Addressing newsmen during the latest display of another seized 470 pump action rifles imported illegally into Nigeria from Turkey, Col Alli explained that he has been directed by the Presidency to discuss with the Turkish ambassador to Nigeria on the issue tomorrow.

According to the Customs CG, “It is an understatement to say that Nigeria is being threatened. It is most worrisome that this dastardly act is being done by Nigerians in collaboration with syndicates in Turkey.

“We are yet to get to the root of this issue, whether they are meant for commercial purposes or for some religious fundamentalist, agitators or kidnappers. That aspect of the investigation is ongoing, and I am sure the DSS will unravel it in no time.

“Like I told you about a fortnight ago when we came to display the seized 1,100 pump action guns that we at the Nigerian Customs Service are going to escalate this issue beyond the borders of Nigeria.

“Having identified the country of origin of this weapons, we should not relent but insist on getting to the point where we start asking questions of why are all this pump action guns coming from a particular country?

“Fortunately enough, we have made an inroad, and by tomorrow, I will be meeting with the Turkish ambassador specifically on this issue. Mr President has raised this issue at an international forum, and the Turkish ambassador to Nigeria has been mandated to sit with us to discuss this issue of illegal arms importation to Nigeria. Like I promised you, steps are being taken beyond the shores of Nigeria.

“This latest seizure, a 20ft container with number CMAU189817/81 containing 470 pump action guns from Turkey was falsely declared to contain elbow plumbing plastics on its Bill of Lading. The seizure came about when the Tin-Can Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Yusuf Bashir ordered a detailed profiling of all imports, especially those coming from the same source of previous arms seizures.

“The Terminal operator was consequently directed to quarantine the flagged container for stricter analysis. It was later transferred to the Customs enforcement unit where 100% examination revealed 470 pump action guns.

“The importer of this deadly cargo is Great James Oil & Gas Ltd while the vessel that brought it in is MV Arias Africa owned by Hull Blyth.

“This latest discovery brings to a total of 2671 pump action rifles from Turkey to Nigeria within the last 8 months of this year.

“Let me assure Nigerians that the Customs is presently at critical alert following my directive to all Customs Area Controllers yesterday.”