Arms and ammunition seizure at Apapa port
By Tokunbo Adedoja
A Nigerian shipping agent, Ali Abbas Usman Jega, has been sanctioned by United States government for acting for and providing support to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) - a designated terrorist entity.
Also sanctioned were Behineh Trading, an Iranian cargo airline - Yas Air, and three officials of the IRGC-QF namely: Esmail Ghani, Sayyid Ali Akbar Tabatabaei and Hosein Aghajani.
A statement by the US Treasury Department said Behineh Trading, Yas Air, and the Nigerian agent were involved in a weapons shipment seized in Nigeria in late October 2010.
It noted that the weapons shipment, which was orchestrated by the IRGC-QF and intended for The Gambia, was part of a larger pattern of Iranian lethal aid shipments to clients in Africa and around the world.
It could be recalled that in compliance with Security Council Resolution 1929, Nigeria had in November 2010 reported Iran to the United Nations Sanctions Committee over high calibre arms and ammunition intercepted by security agencies at Apapa Port.
The intercepted arms and ammunition, loaded in 13 containers labelled as “packages of glass wool and pallets of stone”, were said to have originated from Iran, a country under UN sanctions, including arms embargo.
The Treasury Department on Tuesday said the weapons shipment was hidden among construction materials, contained grenades, rockets, mortars, and ammunition.
It said though Iran publicly downplayed government's involvement in the lethal aid shipment,"the highest levels of the IRGC-QF were involved.”
US also said the Iranian airline, the trading company and the IRGC-QF officials were involved in shipments of weapons to the Levant (countries bordering on the eastern Mediterranean Sea from Turkey to Egypt) and Africa.
Quoting the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David S. Cohen, the statement said: “Today’s action again exposes Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East, Africa and beyond. As the Iranian regime exports its lethal aid and expertise to foment violence in Syria and Africa, Treasury will continue to expose the officials and companies involved and work to hold them accountable for the suffering they cause.”
Tuesday’s sanctions were based on Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, issued by President Barack Obama on June 24, 2011, which deals with suspension of entry of aliens subject to United Nations Security Council travel bans and International Emergency Economic Powers Act sanctions.