Customs Intercepts 844 Guns, 112,500 Bullets, Drugs Worth Over N13.9bn In Rivers

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The Nigeria Customs Service has intercepted nine containers ladened with 844 assorted guns, 112,500 live bullets or ammunition, illicit drugs and used clothes worth over N13.9 billion smuggled into the country through Onne ports in Rivers State.

Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, while briefing Journalists on Monday at the Customs Port Harcourt Area two Command in Onne, on the recent achievements of the service, said the consignments originated from Turkey.

Adeniyi emphasised that the rifles and ammunition were concealed in containers with various items such as doors, furniture, plumbing fittings, and leather bags.

He noted that three suspects were arrested in the operation in connection with the intercepted containers, noted that the feat was possible as a result of synergy, collaboration, and intelligence sharing with sister security agencies.

He said, “It was the case with this 1 by 40 foot container MAEU165396, which originated from Turkey, and based on a number of risk factors, became a subject of interest. We had followed its sail across the continents, as we benefited immensely from credible information produced through our collaboration with the intelligence communities, both at the local, national and international levels.

“Working within our local structures, we followed diligently as the importer attempted to circumvent our procedure through the outlet of a Private Bonded Terminal.

“Consequently, on Friday, 21 June 2024, the suspicious container was subjected to thorough physical examination. The examination result revealed the following alarming contents: Eight Hundred and Forty-Four (844) units of rifles,

One Hundred and Twelve Thousand, Five Hundred (112,500) pieces of live ammunition.”

Giving details of the weapons, he said the container had, “764 units of Tomahawk Jojef Magnum Black Pump Action Rifles, 10 units of VC Verney Caron Gunmakers Jojef Magnum Silver Pump Action Rifles, 50 units of VC Verney Caron Gunmaker Double Barrel Rifles, 20 units of VC Verney Caron Gunmaker Single Barrel Rifles, Exclusive Series, Sterling High-Quality Live Ammunition 34g – 25 Plastic Shotgun Shells (70MM).

“The duty-paid value of the container is Four Billion, One Hundred and Seventy-One Million, Seven Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira (₦4,171,710,000.00).

“In connection with this, we have three suspects in our custody after securing a detention warrant from a competent court of justice. Furthermore, a thorough investigation is ongoing to ensure all those involved face the full wrath of the law.”

Speaking further, he said, “Last Saturday, our officers intercepted another eight 40 foot containers with numbers as; TCKU6879285, CMAU5985012, CMAU7515384, CMAU4297020, SEKU5488437, BMOU4363156, MRKU4616024, and MRSU3068928, on transit to a bonded warehouse from Onne Port.”

He said six of the containers were ladened with; one million bottles of CSC Cough Syrup with Codeine (100ml), 3,500,000 tablets of Tramadol Benzhexol Tablets (5mg) with duty-paid value of ₦9,600,000,000, while the other two containers had 720 bales of used clothes with duty-paid value of ₦144,000,000.

“The total duty-paid value of the nine displayed containers is Thirteen Billion, Nine Hundred and Fifteen Million, Seven Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira (₦13,915,710,000.00).”

He clarified that the seized items would be handed over to the Coordinator of the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, under the office of the National Security Adviser for diligent investigation and prosecution.

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The Customs Comptroller General warned that any Customs Officers found complicit in the perpetration of nefarious acts would be heavily sanctioned, adding that his leadership will not tolerate any action that compromises the economy and security of the country.

Adeniyi, assured that officers who kept faith with their Oath of allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and refused to be bribed into releasing seized containers will be adequately rewarded in a manner provided by the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023.

The CGC however, commended the professional commitment of the Customs Area Comptroller of Onne Port, Mohammed Babandede and his Officers and Men, for the meticulous approach deployed in the operation.

On his part, the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, represented by Major General A. G. Lala, commended the Nigeria Customs for the achievements, describing it as a great feat, stressing that it underscores the Federal Government’s efforts in ridding the country of illicit weapons exacerbating insecurity in many parts of the nation.

Ribadu said, “Research and experience has shown that there is a nexus between drug trafficking, smuggling of small arms, money laundering and human trafficking. These has necessitated the need for synergy between security agencies to combat these menaces.

“The successful interception of this weapons and drugs is a further proof of the agency’s determination to frustrate the activities of arms smugglers and drugs traffickers.

“It is pertinent to state that the reoccurring proliferation of small arms and light weapons across the country continues to fuel various activities of criminal elements as currently being witnessed in many parts of the country with the resultant negative implications on national security and national developments. We’ll not be able to reap dividends of democracy if there is no security.

He added, “In view of the forgoing, I wish to use this opportunity to urge other security agencies to improve on efforts at checkmating the activities of criminals undermining the federal government of Nigeria’s effort at improving security across the country.

“Therefore, I assure all Nigerians that we will not relent in our commitment to improve the security situation in the country without which no meaningful development can take place.”

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