Illegal Arms And An Already Tense Atmosphere

Although the Nigerian government is vigilantly striving to find a lasting solution to the problems posed by an insurgency in the country (especially in the north-east), more problems continue to arise. On September 11th, officers of the Nigeria Customs Service intercepted a consignment of 1100 pump action rifles, loaded in a 20-foot container.

Since February 2017, this is the third time that containers loaded with weapons were intercepted by the Customs Service. The first incident in February involved the discovery of 661 pump action rifles; a second incident occurred in May when another 440 highly dangerous weapons were discovered.

Briefing journalists on the discovery, Colonel Hammed Ali reported that the customs officer who discovered the weapons was suspected to have cut the seal of the container without following due process. As a result, he was arrested in connection with the discovery.

After its discovery, the container was immediately transferred to the Enforcement Unit. The container held 900 action rifles. The Custom C-G noted that the importation of rifles when the country was experiencing security challenges indicates that “there are indeed some elements who do not believe in the unity, peace, and well-being of Nigeria.” The Custom C-G further noted that shipping companies (as well as port terminals) would be held responsible for discoveries of such an offensive nature. According to him, terminal operators (as well as shipping companies) will be responsible for explaining how illegal items made their way into the terminals.

Importantly, the Customs General promised to follow-up with the Turkish government on the frequency of this offensive cargo, noting that all such cargo originated in Turkey. He made it clear that any Customs officer collaborating in illegal activities will be subject to the law. “We will begin to parade erring officers” in order to “serve as a deterrence to others,” he said.

The investigation is ongoing, aiming to discern why these illegal importations are increasing in an already-tense political atmosphere.