Nigeria Customs Service has seized 661 pump action rifles imported into the country from China illegally.
They were packed in 49 boxes and concealed with steel doors and other merchandize goods in a 40ft container.
The Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) made the declaration during a press conference in Lagos yesterday.
He said the weapons had been cleared and had left the port but customs undercover agents on receipt of “useful information” went after the truck.
He said the detectives from the Federal Operations Unit Zone A, Ikeja intercepted the container at Mile 2 area of Lagos.
Col Ali said the weapons were being transported in a Mark truck to an unknown destination.
Already, three people including the importer of the consignment have been arrested.
They are Oscan Okafor, 51, (Importer), Mahmud Hassan, 56, clearing agent and Sadique Mustapha, 28, said to be accompanying the consignment to its destination.
Also arrested are an undisclosed number of Customs officials who illegally released the consignment from the port.
Both the importer, his two collaborators as well as the custom officers are currently being detained at the FOU Zone A, Ikeja
The customs boss said: “After several days of waiting, on January 22, 2017, detectives attached to the Roving team intercepted a Mark truck with registration number BDG 265 XG conveying a 1 by 40 ft container with number PONU/825914/3 along mile 2-Apapa road.
“The truck was immediately taken to the premises of FOU Zone A, Ikeja where physical examination revealed 49 boxes containing a total number of 661 pieces of pump action rifles concealed with steel doors and other merchandize goods.
“The rifles are under absolute prohibition; therefore its importation is illegal. Such deadly contravention of the Law is even more unacceptable considering the fragile security situation in some parts of the country” he said.
He disclosed that those arrested were helping detectives to unravel the circumstance surrounding the illegal importation.
He noted that investigations had already commenced, stressing that he had also ordered that the dragnet be extended to fish out all persons involved in the importation and clearing of the consignment.
“This seizure underscores the determination of the service to enforce all Laws relating to importation and exportation of goods into and out of Nigeria thereby contributing to the economy, security, and well-being of the country.
“This feat is no doubt commendable and represents the new normal in the service where most officers and men are on a daily basis ensuring that illegalities are not allowed unchecked. I commend the comptroller, all officers and men involved in this great seizure” he said.
Col. Ali called on all well meaning Nigerians to support the service with information in the public interest.
In December 2016 operatives of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Tin Can Islands Port Command intercepted a cache of arms, ammunition and military gadgets, being smuggled into the country from the United States.
The weapons, include one Omin American Tactical Rifle one Mossberg American Pump Action; Permier Hollow Point (air gun pallets) 7,500 pieces, nine pieces of military bullet proof vest, one piece of military helmet with rainproof, pistol punch, rifle punch and 26 packs of already made military food.
Prior to this time, Customs operatives attached to the Tin-Can Island port also intercepted arms and ammunitions concealed in a container. One person was arrested in connection with the importation.
Over 980 rounds of live 9mm ammunitions and one Taurus pistol were recovered.
Amongst the military ware was a pair of black boot, a military cap, a pair of camouflage hand gloves and an army coloured plastic container.
Similarly, operatives impounded a cache of arms and ammunition abandoned in the strong room of the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company Limited (NAHCO). The seizure included six double barrelled guns.
Other items impounded included one single barrelled gun, one pump action gun, one Uzzi, two magazines, one Berretta pistol and one Becheverria pistol.
The customs had earlier arrested a 38-year old man for being involved in the illegal importation of army camouflage, boots, and belts.
The suspect identified as Emmanuel Eko allegedly possessed a Nigerian International Passport and a British identification card. He is also alleged to have claimed to be in the British Army.