Nigeria Customs Service at the Tin Can Island Port in Apapa, Lagos, has intercepted a 40ft container filled with 440 pieces of pump action rifles amid widespread rumors of a military coup and president Buhari’s death.
According to a report from The Sun, the guns were seized on Monday 22 May, 2017.
The smugglers disguised their wares in a container which was allegedly packed with Plaster of Paris (POP) powder and shipped into the country from Turkey although the products were manufactured in Italy and America.
Nigeria’s political setting has been tense following initial rumors of President Muhammadu Buhari’s death which has been reported by international news outlets, and a looming military take-over of government.
Fox News 24 and UK’s Metro confirmed the president died in London where he was receiving treatment after arriving from Abuja last Sunday for follow-up medical treatments.
A group of some scrupulous Nigerian politicians have been accused of stockpiling firearms and ammunitions in preparation for the upcoming 2019 general elections — a probable reason for the seized 440 pump action rifles.
Monday Abueh [Assistant Comptroller General of Customs], who is also the Zonal Co-ordinator of Zone ‘A’ of Customs, showcased the seized shipment with registration numbers PONU210024 (1) 22G1 while addressing an audience at the port.
Abueh showered encomiums on the men of Nigeria Customs Service who were swift in their response through intelligence reports.
The intercepted containers are now under protection from the enforcement unit, pending thorough inspections from other security agencies within the country.
The Sun quotes Abueh as saying, “These are pump action riffles of various designs.
“Based on intelligence report of the Tin Can Island Customs under Controller Bashir Yussuf, who is one of our best officers, the container was identified and intercepted.
“There is no question of any officer releasing here. It was intercepted even before declaration.
“We discovered that they used POP powder to conceal the guns in order to beat the Customs checks.
“We have one defendant but for the purpose of indemnity, we don’t intend to detain him for long for security reasons.
“As for the consignee, we are still keeping it under wraps because investigations are still ongoing. We have about 440 pieces coming from Turkey,” Abueh added.
The AGCG revealed that investigations are underway, stressing that the agency’s lawyers are competent and reliable to handle the matter.
He continued: “Prosecution of matters like this in Nigeria takes a long time to push out the culprits but our lawyers have all it takes to prosecute those involved.”
Apart from the Magnum brand pump action riffles discovered, some Completely Knocked Down (CKD) of the firearms were also busted.
“We have other accessories in this container,” said Abueh. “Several parts were dismantled but definitely to be reassembled (CKD).
“Investigations would go deeper so as to know where the factory for arms assembly is located in Nigeria.
“Generally, anytime we have interceptions like this, it requires a lot of intelligence and profiling of importers. The 21st Century calls for that. You don’t have to wait for things to start happening before you start working.
“POP is a very safe item to conceal weapons because it is not injurious to anyone. It is an attempt to distract the Customs. But whatever anyone might use, it would attract our attention,” he warned.