The federal government will fish out those who imported the arms and ammunition intercepted by security agencies at the Apapa ports, Lagos on Tuesday, the National Security Adviser to the President, Andrew Owoye Azazi, said yesterday.
Mr Azazi, a retired army general who led a delegation from the Presidency to inspect the containers loaded with arms and ammunition promised a thorough investigation.
Already security has been beefed up at the port following the discovery of the 13 containers. Fierce-looking operatives from the State Security Service, the police, army, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, the National Task Force on illegal arms and ammunition were seen at the AP Moller terminals at Apapa, as the search for more arms and ammunition continued.
Rocket launchers, grenades, mortar bombs and other light weapons were stacked with ceramic tiles in crates and shipped from Iran into the country by unknown persons. The containers have registration numbers 94782040,7868431,1301980,7869612,7827707,7868370,7870064,7869356,7868318,7868370,7866819,7868318, and 7868771.
Law enforcement officers have refused to comment about the owner of the ship and the people suspected to have imported the arms into the country.
Efforts by journalists to get the necessary details about the ship were rebuffed by Mr. Azazi, who merely said the government had begun investigations into the armed shipment and will prosecute anybody or agency involved in the importation of the illegal arms and ammunition into the country.
“At this point, the only thing is to find out about these containers and the ship. Our concern at the moment is to get to the root of the matter, to know who is involved. At this point it will not be necessary to jump into conclusion; we will find out where they are going, and where the ship is coming from. We are investigating. We will discover and recover everything that is required in this regard. Nigerians are advised to go about their daily activities without fear as the government is on top of the situation and the perpetrators will be brought to book,” he said.
Speaking later, the Inspector General of police, Hafiz Ringim who expressed shock at the development said, ”Honestly I do not know what to say but I assure you that we will carry out a thorough investigation.”
Jeff Imo, the spokesperson for the National Task force on illegal importation of arms and light ammunition South West zone said arms shipment is a troubling trend and requires the combined efforts of security agencies to nip the problem before it escalates.
“The seizure of the containers carrying loads of arms and ammunition is a breakthrough but a worrisome trend that needs the collaboration of all security agencies. It is something that the government considered very necessary to check and that is why this administration established the National Task Force on Illegal Arms to combat this rising trend in our country.
“Our officers are putting the necessary structures on ground and we will spring into action to check this type of activities which is majorly why the task force was set up and we are already making progress. We gave the necessary assistance to other security agencies that led to the seizure and we promise Nigerians that this type of thing will not continue in the country. The national task force is up to the task and we need the necessary assistance from the public and the government because these arms dealers are very rich and they are determined to continue in their illegal trade but we are equal to the task to nip their activities in the bud,” Mr. Imo said.
Ayo Omotosho, the coordinator of the task force in the South West has confirmed that the ship came from Iran. NEXT gathered that the clearing agent of the armed containers has been arrested but officials refused to disclose where he was taken to. The commissioner of police, Port Authority Command, Hillary Opara, could not be reached for comment.
Thumbs up for security agencies
Meanwhile, the Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation yesterday lauded officials of the nation’s security services for their efforts in intercepting the illegal arms shipment.
The organisation’s spokesman, Sully Abu, praised the vigilance of the Police, State Security Services, Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, which led to the discovery of the dangerous cargo.
“By this interception, the Security Services have saved Nigerians from mortal danger,” Mr Abu said. “It is obvious that the evil minds behind the importation of these arms have a sinister agenda. They must be exposed and brought to book.”
He asked the security agencies and Nigerians to be very vigilant at this time, and urged citizens to expose desperate people who are hell-bent on disrupting peace and orderliness in the country.”
The 13 containers bearing the arms and ammunition were intercepted at the A P Moller Terminal by the State Security Service following a tip off on Tuesday.
The SSS Assistant Director Public Relations Marilyn Ogar said, “We are yet to quantify the contents but for now we know that they were concealed in crates of tiles,” she said.
This interception is coming barely two weeks after the National Task Force on Illegal arms and light ammunition seized a trailer load of arms at Onitsha and a vessel containing arms and ammunition at Onne in Port Harcourt.
Source – 234NEXT.com