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It was shock of the century for some Nigerians who saw the displayed cartons and some of the impounded American made Pump-Action riffle guns number 661 at the Lagos State Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Monday.
Eagle-eyed monitoring and enforcement unit of the Service intercepted a Mack truck along the Mile 2 Apapa Road containing 49 boxes of pump-action rifles.
But suspicion grew when it was discovered that the manifest that followed the truck stated that it carried still doors, thus compelling the customs officials to arrest the 40 feet container in a commando style to avoid escape.
Investigations however revealed that the 40ft Container which contained the 661 rifles left the Apapa port in the night without the knowledge of the OC gate who is an Assistant Comptroller of Customs.
A source said the two Officers who are of Assistant superintendents cadre perfected the job to pass through the gate in a ‘ Flying Container’ style. That is container leaving the port without proper documentation at the exit gate.
There were unconfirmed rumours that a lady officer of the rank of Assistant Comptroller, who have been redeployed several but she find her way back to the APMT terminal released the job.
It was not clear if the officers may have been ignorance of the arms, but wanted to play a fast one to avoid been exposed due to the fact that, the consignment which was seen to be furniture is contra ban. Also, the handling Agent is said to be a retired Assistant Comptroller of customs.
Besides, the FOU, did not know it was arms as their informat hinted them of furniture.
But the burble busted when the container was intercepted, the importer was said to have offered huge amount to the Lagos Roving team leader of the FOU, not to open the container, but he refused and insisted the container must be open.
When all efforts to bribed the Roving team leader fails, the agent was said to have lamented “If you open this container I will just die” Then it was observed that the consignment is more than furniture.
Addressing journalists during a briefing at Customs FOU, Ikeja, Monday, , the Comptroller-General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali, said investigations were ongoing, adding that some suspects had been arrested.
Ali’s address at FOU, Ikeja, unedited: “It is my pleasure to brief you on the recent gains of Nigeria Customs Service anti-smuggling operations. On Sunday 22nd January 2017, the Roving Team of the NCS Federal Operations Unit while on information patrol intercepted a Mack truck with registration number BDG 265 XG conveying a 1x40ft Container with Number: PONU/825914/3along Mile 2 Apapa road”.
“The truck was immediately taken to the premises of FOU Zone A,Ikeja where Physical examination revealed49 boxes containing a total number of 661 pieces of pump action rifles concealed with steel doors and other merchandize goods
“ These Rifles are under absolute prohibition; therefore its importation is illegal. Such deadly contravention of the law is even more unacceptable considering the fragile security situation in some parts of the country.
“ Already three suspects have been arrested in connection with this illegal importation. They are:
Mr. Oscan Okafor (Importer) age 51
Mr. Mahmud Hassan (Clearing Agent) age 56
Mr. Sadique Mustapha (accompanying the consignment to its destination) age 28.
“Investigation has already commenced and I have directed that the drag net should be wide enough to fish out all persons involved in the importation and clearing of the consignment. Already, the Officers involved in the clearance of this container are with the Comptroller FOU Zone ‘A’Ikeja.
“This seizure underscores the determination of the Serviceto enforce all laws relating to importation and exportation of goods into and out of Nigeria thereby contributing to the economy, security and wellbeing of the Country.
“This feat is no doubt commendable and represents the new normal in the service where most Officers and Men are on a daily basis ensuring that illegalities are not allowed unchecked. I commend the Comptroller, all Officers and Men involved in this great seizure.
“Let me seize this opportunity to call on all well meaning Nigerians to support the service with information that could assist the Service perform their statutory responsibilities in the interest of our father land.
“Thank you for your attention.
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