As dust continue to raise over the discovery of another container laden with rifles in Nigeriaâ€™s second busiest seaport, Tin Can Island Port Complex, Apapa, Lagos, the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Colonel Ibrahim Hameed Ali (retired) has fingered the concessionaire in charge of the terminal as having a hand in the importation of the prohibited item.
He also fingered the shipping firm involved in the shipment of the prohibited cargo, pointing out that there was no way they would not be aware before the container was sealed at the port of origin.
Speaking in Lagos in the wake of the discovery of the container laden with the rifles, Ali stated that there was no way the terminal operator who received the prohibited items would be innocent of its importation.
According to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) boss, the way and manner the rifles laden container was positioned in the terminal on the day it was discovered, it was clear that the terminal operator was aware of its content since the cargo was not slated for physical examination on the day it was discovered by the service.
He maintained that it was impossible for the rifle laden container to be at the spot it was discovered without the knowledge of the terminal operator.
He also fingered shipping companies in the shipment of the prohibited cargo into the country, even as he pointed out that this was the third time the same kind of items would be shipped into Nigeria from Turkey.
In order to avert a similar occurrence, the retired military officer who was the military governor of Kaduna State during his hey days in service said NCS would soon hold discussions with the Nigerian Shippersâ€™ Council (NSC) on how to handle shipping companies involved in bringing dangerous goods into the country.
The CGC stated that the NCS wants to have an adequate profiling of such ship owners so as to bring the arms of the law against them for shipping dangerous weapons into the country.
His words: â€œAs you may already be aware, the two previous cases of 661 pump action rifles from Apapa and 440 pump action rifles through Tin Can Island Port Command seized earlier in the year are already in court. We look forward to justice being served to deter other would-be arm dealers. The ship owner who brought the consignment would have been arrested if the vessel was still in the country. The terminal operator will have to be questioned over the consignmentâ€.
Ali enjoined shipping agencies and terminal operators to live up to expectation of the Federal Government byÂ rising up to their roles and responsibilities in the nationâ€™s seaports.
According to Ali, the bill of lading falsely indicates the content to be wash hand basins and water closets, but thorough examination the following day revealed the following: jolef magnum black pump action rifle (600); jolef magnum silver pump action rifles (300); jolef magnum plastic single barrels hunting gun pump action rifles (200).
The audacity of these criminals to think that they can succeed in smuggling such quantity of deadly weapons into the country calls for all round responsibilities.