The Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, over the weekend, advised the federal government to consider meting out appropriate sanction to the country of origin of the arms and ammunitions intercepted recently at the Apapa Port, Lagos.
Mr Fashola, while speaking to journalists at the Tin Can Island Port where he had gone to inspect the impounded consignment, said taking such action will reinforce the successful interception and send a positive message to the international community that Nigerian ports are not for terrorism acts.
“This is a huge trading port,” he said. “Our port and the businesses that it brings in terms of export to other countries create international commercial benefit that must never be abused against the safety of citizens. So this is the time we should be finding out where this cargo originated from and summoning their diplomatic representative if we have not done so.
This is where we should be considering whether or not we should suspend import from that country to send the strongest signal to every other countries that ship goods to Nigeria that our port are ports for development of the prosperity of Nigeria and Nigerians and not port for being agents of destruction. I want to see the Minister of Foreign Affairs summoning the Ambassador of the country who owns the vessel, the people who are named on the bill of lading, even if they are not in Nigeria. This is not different from what happened to us when one of our citizens was caught in an aircraft. They de-categorised and reclassified our airport. The seaport is not different.”
India, or Iran
According to the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Dikko Abdullahi, the ship came into Nigeria, in transit, from India, but its country of origin is yet to be ascertained. The seized weapons, contained in 13 containers, were intercepted by a combined team of State Security Service and Customs officials.
However, the shipping company that shipped the crates of weapons, CMA CGM, a French company, said the ship was loaded in Iran and its next destination after Nigeria is Gambia. The company, in a statement made available to Reuters, claimed it had been a victim of false declaration. “The shipment in question was booked as a ‘shipper’s owned container’ and supplied loaded and sealed by the shipper, an Iranian trader who does not appear on any ‘forbidden persons’ listing. The containers were loaded in Bandar Abbas and discharged in Lagos in July,” stated the company.
Mr Fashola, who described as unimaginable, what would have happened if the consignment had escaped, commended the Nigerian Customs Service. “I think the message to be sent is: What do we do with the latest success? Do we want to climb a slope or climb a hill? I think we must use this success to climb a slope and progress from here”, he said.