Nigeria Customs Seizes Major Arms Shipment in Onne Port

Nigeria Customs Intercepts 844 Rifles and 112,500 Rounds of Ammunition in Operation Targeting Illegal Imports

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) intercepted a substantial cache of arms and ammunition at the Port Harcourt Area II Command in Onne, Rivers State. Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi, announced the seizure during a press conference on July 1, 2024, highlighting the haul that included 844 rifles and 112,500 rounds of live ammunition concealed within a shipment from Turkey.

The operation began on June 21, 2024, when customs inspectors, acting on credible intelligence, targeted a suspicious 1×40-foot container. The container, upon inspection, revealed a sophisticated concealment of arms hidden among doors, furniture, plumbing equipment, and leather bags. The total duty-paid value of the seized items is estimated at ₦4,171,710,000. Three individuals have been apprehended, and an ongoing investigation aims to bring all involved parties to justice.

Adeniyi emphasized that this interception underscores the NCS’s unwavering dedication to national security and public safety. The confiscated container is set to be transferred to the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons for further investigation and legal proceedings.

In another significant operation on June 29, 2024, customs officials seized eight 40-foot containers destined for a bonded facility at Onne Port. The containers were found to contain 1,050,000 bottles of CSC Cough Syrup with Codeine, 3,500,000 pills of Trodol Benzhexol, and 720 bales of discarded garments, collectively valued at ₦13,915,710,000 in duty-paid value. These containers had been falsely declared in an attempt to circumvent customs duties and import restrictions.

Adeniyi credited the successful seizures to the NCS’s robust Risk Management System and the collaborative efforts with local and international intelligence communities. As a consequence of these operations, licenses and permits for the involved warehouses and terminals have been suspended, and implicated customs personnel are facing serious repercussions.

Commending the efforts of Customs Area Comptroller Onne Port, Mohammed Babandede, and his team, Adeniyi acknowledged their professionalism and the crucial cooperation from various local, international, and government partners and agencies. He also issued a stern warning to potential offenders, indicating that such seizures serve as a clear deterrent against similar future infractions.

The NCS’s interception of the arms shipment followed an intricate intelligence and risk assessment trail that spanned continents, leading from Turkey to Onne Port. Detailed inspections of the container revealed:

  • 764 units of Tomahawk Jojef Magnum Black Pump-action Rifles
  • 10 units of VC. Verney Caron Gun Makers Jojef Magnum Silver Pump Action Rifles
  • 50 units of VC. Verney Caron Gun Maker Double Barrel Rifles
  • 20 units of VC Verney Caron Gun Maker Single Barrel Rifles
  • 112,500 rounds of Sterling High-Quality Live Ammunition 34g – 25 plastic shotgun shells (70mm)

The June 29 seizure included:

  • 1,050,000 bottles of CSC Cough Syrup with Codeine (100mL)
  • 3,500,000 Trodol Benzhexol Tablets (5mg)
  • 720 bales of old clothes

These items were declared seized under the Nigeria Customs Service Act of 2023. The seized goods and suspects are to be handed over to the relevant authorities for further investigation and prosecution. The licenses and permits of the implicated warehouses and customs agents have been suspended as part of the enforcement actions.

Customs officials who resisted bribes and dutifully executed their responsibilities are to be rewarded, whereas those found complicit in illicit activities will face stringent consequences. The NCS’s decisive actions underscore its relentless commitment to national security and economic integrity.

This operation not only highlights the challenges faced by customs authorities globally but also underscores the vital role of intelligence and international cooperation in safeguarding national borders. Similar instances in the past, such as large-scale seizures in the United States, Europe, and Asia, reveal a consistent pattern where illicit arms and contraband are intricately concealed and transported across borders, necessitating vigilant and collaborative enforcement efforts worldwide.

As the NCS continues to protect Nigeria’s borders, this latest seizure sends a strong message to criminal networks and reaffirms the agency’s crucial role in maintaining national security and public safety.

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