The Federal Government is set to meet Turkish diplomats today over the spate of illegal importation of riffles from Turkey to Nigeria.
Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Comptroller-General (CG) Col. Hameed Ali (retd) said this when he briefed reporters over the seizure of another 470 rifles at Tin-Can Island port in Lagos.
A meeting between the leadership of Customs and the Turkish Ambassador in Nigeria will hold today as part of efforts to fish out those directly or remotely connected with the importation.
It was learnt that the new container, in which 470 rifles was found, belongs to the same importer of the 1,100 rifles seized at the port few days ago.
Col. Ali said the Customs Service was sad to announce that in spite of their previous efforts, officers of the service at the Tin-Can Island port intercepted the 470 rifles shipped into the country from Turkey.
The importer of the deadly cargo, the CGC said, was Great James Oil and Gas Ltd. A vessel, MV Arkas Africa, owned by Hull Blyth, was used in the illegal shipment of the guns.
The importer, Col. Ali said, used the elbow plumbing plastic he declared in his bill of lading as a decoy to deceive the service before the container No. CMAU189817/8 was subjected to 100 per cent examination by his officers and discovered the 470 guns that were concealed inside the container.
The guns, concealed in a 20-foot container, were seized by the Area Comptroller Tin-Can Island Customs Command Mr. Bashar Yusuf.
Ali said: “Following increase in the number of arms seizures in recent times, the Customs Area Comptroller of Tin-Can Island port ordered a detailed profile of all imports, especially those from the same source with previous seizures.
“The profile of containers from Turkey eventually narrowed down to one 20ft container No. CMAU189817/8. The terminal operator was consequently directed to quarantine the flagged container for stricter analysis. It was later transferred to the enforcement unit, where 100 per cent examination revealed 470 pump action rifles as against elbow plumbing plastics on its bill of lading.
“The discovery brings to a total of 2,671 rifles seized within the last eight months of this year.
“While the audacity of these criminals to think that they can succeed in smuggling these dangerous weapons into the country successfully remains worrisome, the consolation is that the new Nigerian Customs Service is now responsive and capable of meeting the challenge posed by these criminals.
“This is what the present government requires of all citizens. We must rise up and remain vigilant to deal decisively with the enemies of this nation.
“As our sea ports become increasingly impenetrable, we suspect they may want to try other entry points. Let me assure Nigerians that the Service is presently at critical apart following my directive to all Customs Area Comptrollers yesterday. We will do all in our power to further secure this country.”
Reiterating his warning that any Customs officer involved in the release of suspected containers would henceforth be arrested, paraded the way the police parade suspected criminals and charge to court for prosecution, Ali said: “The policy of reward for good deeds and punishment for those who compromise will continue in the service under my leadership.
“Since this container belongs to the same importer of the 1100 rifles, the ongoing investigation will be reinvigorated to fish out all those directly or remotely connected with these dangerous importations.”