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Turkish envoy visits Customs CG, agrees to ambush arms importers

Barely one week after giving the hint during the display of 470 Pump Action riffles seized at Tincan island Port in Lagos, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) on Tuesday met with the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Hakan Cakil.

They discussed the recurring arms imports from the Eastern Europe nation.

Turkey is bounded on the north by the Black Sea, on the northeast by Georgia and Armenia, on the east by Azerbaijan and Iran, on the southeast by Iraq and Syria, on the southwest and west by the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea, and on the northwest by Greece and Bulgaria.

Analysts say, it may not out of place, tracing the real origin of the arms to neighbouring nations who are major arms producing circle especially in the northeast.

There is fresh intelligence that the ring may be relying on the good diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Turkey after all in the illicit trade.

It would be recalled in the last eight months, four tranches of arms totaling over 2,671 may have been smuggled in using the Tincan Ports in Lagos. There are fears that some containers may have escaped the surveillance of the Customs and other security operatives at the port within the period.

In a statement by the Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Mr. Joseph Attah, said the meeting dwelt on how to fashion out ways of dealing with the recurring cases of arms importation from Turkey.

Tincan Island Port had, in January, seized 661 pieces of pump action rifles, which were found in 49 boxes.

In May, the operatives intercepted 440 pieces of assorted pump action rifles and on September 11, 2017, another 1,100 rifles were intercepted at the Tin Can Island.

Attah averred that the CG expressed concerns that four different arms seizures with a total of 2,671 Pump Action rifles were coming from one source –Turkey, which technically appears to suggest complicity on the part of the Turkish government.

In his response, the Turkish Ambassador restated his country’s support for Nigeria’s security and well-being, noting that Turkey would not support any dangerous shipment to Nigeria.

Cakil said that all the four shipments intercepted by the NCS bore false declarations on the bill of lading. This, he noted was a clear case of smuggling.

However, a key resolution taken at the meeting was the agreement to communicate to his home country, the outcome of the investigations from Customs, so as to fish out the ring behind the illegal arms shipment from Turkey.

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