The container intercepted by the Nigeria Customs Service on Tuesday at the Tin Can Island port, Lagos, was loaded with 440 arms and ammunition of various sizes and designs, the Nigeria Customs Service has said.
Monday Abue, Zonal Commander, Tin Can Island Command, said the container with registration number PONU 210024/1 was shipped from Turkey and routed through the Lagos port.
Speaking after the seizure on Tuesday, Mr. Abue said the consignment was declared as Plaster of Paris by the importer, adding that it was intercepted by the Customs based on intelligence report and that investigations were ongoing to uncover the shipper.
According to Mr. Abue, the intercepted 440 pieces of pump action rifles were manufactured in the United States of America and Italy.
“They are pump action rifles of various designs and also the single barrel device that you are familiar with.
“We have arrested one defendant but due to security reasons, we don’t want to make it public for now because such information could hamper investigations which are still ongoing,” he added.
A source had earlier informed PREMIUM TIMES that the container was impounded at the Ports & Cargo Terminal, inside the Tin Can Island port.
“The truck carrying the container came out from Ports & Cargo gate before it was stopped at the second gate by Customs officials,” the source added.
But Ports & Cargo Terminal responded Tuesday, through its parent company, Sifax Group, denying that the container was found at its terminal.
The company stated that the arms-laden container was intercepted at a port access road near its terminal, and not within its premises.
“Our findings have shown that the said container was released from another terminal and was headed for an Off-Dock terminal before it was intercepted by the Nigerian Customs Service on the port access road close to our terminal” Muyiwa Akande, Corporate Affairs Manager, said.
“Ports & Cargo Terminal doesn’t own the access road and how we are linked to this beats our imagination.”
Also, in a statement on Tuesday, Uche Ejesieme, Customs Spokesperson at the Tin Can Island Command, said the impounded rifles included 100 pieces of black tornado single barrel rifles, 75 pieces of silver magnum single barrel rifles, 50 pieces of altar pump action rifles, 215 pieces of black single barrel rifles among other accessories.
Tuesday’s discovery came barely four months after the Customs intercepted 661 pieces of pump-action rifles from China, concealed with steel doors and other merchandise goods, which came in through Lagos port.