- Items came into Nigeria duty free
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Tin Can Island Command, has arrested a middle-aged man identified as Christian Mbachi over unlawful importation of rifles, bulletproof vests and gas mask concealed in a container of personal effect.
The Customs Area Comptroller of the command, Yusuf Bashar, who disclosed this in a chat with journalists in Lagos yesterday, stated that the items which were carefully concealed in the two vehicles were being smuggled into Nigeria from the United States of America.
Bashar, who handed over the seized items to officials of the Department of State Services (DSS), said the discovery was made as a result of tact and intelligence deployed by operatives of the command in the discharge of their duties.
Among the items handed over are nine military bulletproof vests, one military helmet, a gas mask, one Omini American tactical rifle No. AR48634, one Moasberg American pump action rifle No. U648018,3500 hollow point pellet ammunition, 4,000 military air gun ammunition, 26 packs of military made food and one rifle punch, two military boots.
A director with the DSS, Tin-Can Island Command, Mr. Julius Odey, who received the items, explained that the arms were concealed in two vehicles, a Toyota Corolla car with chases No.2T1BR32E54C30941 2004 model and a Nissan Amanda car with chases No.5N1AA08A69N709789 2007 model.
Odey said while the items in the Toyota Corolla car were discovered to contain 40 pieces of Hardy X&W ammunition, the Nissan Amanda was discovered to contain two military rifles, military bullet proof vest, gas mask, two military boost, packs of already prepared military food and ammunition.
He said the items were declared as personal effects by their owner which allows it to come into the country duty free duty.
He explained that arms and ammunition are on the federal government absolute prohibited list, and not on the trade list, adding that this makes it illegal for any individual or group of persons to bring them in without necessary government approval.
According to him, “The items arrived in the country on November 29; the discovery was made on November 30. Since then, we had carried out discreet investigations which account for the reason why we did not make it public since then. It is the investigation that led to the arrest of a suspect and the subsequent discovery of the country of origin of the consignment,” he said.
On his part, the comptroller explained that even though no one was arrested in connection with the importation of the Toyota Corolla, a suspect was nabbed in connection with the concealment of military rifles and kits in the Amanda vehicle.
He said: “We don’t know where we are heading to as a nation. What would have happened if the guns and ammunition had found their way into the hands of criminals is best imagined as they would have used it to wreak havoc on innocent members of the public.
“The concealed packed food goes to show that the owner can stay in the forest for days without having cause to come out. The Customs High Command will now have cause to begin to look into the importation of chemicals because of the presence of the gas mask in the seized consignment. What if those behind want to engage members of the public in the use of deadly gas. Before his arrest, he would have killed so many persons because he is ready with the mask.”
The comptroller described the trend of importing dangerous items into the country as worrisome and an abuse of privilege by Nigerians who travelled abroad and failed to import items that add value to the economy but will be quick to conceal dangerous and destructive items.
He added that the discovery of a nose mask in the container raised the customs curiosity to subject the container to more rigorous check which led to the discovery.
Bashar also disclosed that the Comptroller General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (rtd) had issued a third commendation letter to the command in recent times over its various seizures and discoveries.
He said Ali’s latest letter was for the command’s timely use of intelligence.