Arms Importation: Customs Arrest Importer, Grants Administrative Bail    

There are indications that the Nigeria Customs Service has finally arrested a representative of the importer of the 661 pump action riffles which were intercepted on January 22, 2017 by the Roving Team of the Federal Operations Unit, FOU Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service while on patrol.

Shipping Position Daily gathered last week that the Customs, in its investigation to uncover the faces behind the serial importation of arms and ammunition into the country has arrested the representative of the importer whose name was not given and has since released him on administrative bail.

After he was granted bail, the suspect reportedly visited the Inspector General of Police (IGP) office alleging forgery of his Tax Identification Number (TIN).

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) through its Special Duty Officer, Emmanuel Agubanze said the arrested freight forwarder used his personal company to undertake the documentations process of the arms import due to ignorance. 

NAGAFF subsequently directed all its members to ensure due compliance to import and export regulations of the Government, saying that it is only by so doing that NAGAFF shall respond to practitioners rescue in case of intimidation or extortion by the agents of the Government.  

“For the avoidance of doubt and notice to practitioners who are in the habit of non compliance to import and export regulations, it is on record that some time ago the Federal Operations Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service arrested arms laden container from Turkey”.

“We regret to inform practitioners and particularly those who may not be following the matter at Customs Headquarters investigation department.  At the moment the Nigeria Customs Service is still investigating this matter to ascertain the real importer, the freight forwarder and the licensed agent who out of ignorance in the name of looking for business used his personal company to undertake the documentations process”.

“Presently, the importer’s representative who was arrested by Customs and later granted administrative bail has gone ahead to the IGP office alleging forgery of his TIN number”.

 “The Agents have been arraigned in Court in Abuja, over what he knew nothing about but indeed ignorantly used his personal company to stand as the importer.  As it stands now, the importer has denied any involvement except Nigeria Customs Service is able to fish him/her out using this technique of forensic investigation” NAGAFF stated.

Several telephone calls placed by Shipping Position Daily to reach the National Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah were not picked. Text messages sent to his phone not replied either.

Recall that a truck with registration number BDG 265 XG conveying the 1x40ft container of the pump action riffles with Number:

PONU/825914/3 was intercepted along Mile 2 on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway in Lagos. Comptroller-General, NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (retd) said the rifles were concealed in steel doors and other goods in the container.  

He said physical examination revealed 49 boxes containing the rifles, while three suspects were arrested in connection with the illegal importation.

Five men were later arraigned for allegedly importing the 661 pump-action rifles into the country without lawful authority. The accused were arraigned before Justice Ayokunle Faji at the Federal High Court in Lagos. They are Mahmud Hassan, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, Matthew Okoye, said be at large, and Salihu Danjuma.