Concerns, fears and apprehensions are mounting among Nigerians across the World over the incessant importation of arms into the country from across some big nations of the world.
It is being feared that while the Boko Harma menace remains a serious threat to the nation’s unity, the 2015 election may be spelling a big doom with many Nigerians stock- piling tons of dangerous weapons as 2015 election approaches.
A source in London expressed the fear that unless Nigerian government introduce strict laws and allow such a law to be binding on all importers, the nation could be sitting on the keg of a massive national explosion.
The Nigerian Navy during the week seized a vessel with a large consignment of smuggled arms and ammunitions meant for a destination in some parts of the country.
Fifteen Russian sailor crew members on suspicion of aiding the smuggling are under arrest and the authorities may have started interrogation to uncover Nigerians link in the arms deal.
The discovery included about 8,500 rounds of ammunition, including 14 Ak-47 rifles and 42 rifles on the vessel, named Myre Seadiver”. It was flying a Dutch flag.
Navy Rear-Admiral Ameen Ikioda disclosing the information on Tuesday said the Vessel originally is owned by Moran Security Group, based in Moscow. It was not however established whether the vessel was on hire by a Dutch company or the ammunitions shipment originated from Russia.
“The vessel was carrying 8,598 ammunitions and different rifles. Investigations are still ongoing,” said Navy spokesman Commodore Aliyu Kabiru.
The ship, ‘Myre Seadiver’, was intercepted in Lagos over the weekend, according to Kabiru.
Authorities discovered 14 Ak-47 rifles and 42 rifles on the vessel, Navy Rear-Admiral Ameen Ikioda added.
“We found that the vessel entered our territorial waters without proper notice with a cargo of weapons, it is contrary to the laws of Nigeria,” said Admiral Ikioda.
A Navy source, who could not be named, said 22 Benelli MR1 rifles and several other automatic weapons were found.
According to Reuter’s report, Arms smuggling is a flourishing enterprise in Nigeria, which is battling an Islamist insurgency in the north, organized armed robbery and kidnapping gangs in the south and oil thieves and pirates in the Southeast.
“The country is also sometimes used as a conduit for shipping arms into other parts of West Africa or the world”, Reuters claimed, reminding: ”In 2010, a consignment of rocket launchers, grenades and other explosive from Iran was seized in Lagos, causing a diplomatic incident between the two countries, and later between Iran and Senegal, which accused Iranian security forces of using the route to supply weapons to its Casamance rebels.
The discovery has given more cause for concern as all efforts are being made by the government to stem the tide of armsand ammunition importation into the country.
Just as the news was generating reactions across the world, some US-based Nigerians are calling for a national and international probe that will uncover the sources of funding of Boko Haram, especially regarding how the terrorist group gets its deadly arms and weapons, Empowered Newswire reports.
In a chat with the news agency after addressing an international press conference in Washington DC, Dr. James Fadele, the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans (CANAN), said it is now imperative for concerned governments, international agencies, global bodies and think tanks to carry out a probe on how the Boko Haram militants are able to get deadly weapons to carry out their mayhem in Nigeria.
In October 2010, a big haul of illegally imported arms and ammunition was apprehended as security agencies discovered a trailer load of high definition war hardwares in Lagos.
An Iranian man was charged with arms trafficking in court, but many believed he was only used as a front to bear the consequence after being settled.
Azim Aghajani appeared in court in Abuja, but did not enter a plea as Tehran businessman, who is also a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards claimed he wanted his country embassy in Nigeria to be present before taking his plea.
Three Nigerians were also charged in connection with the shipment, which included rockets and grenades hidden among building materials. The apprehended trailer was believed to be the unlucky one after many of such consignment may have slipped into various Nigerian destinations undetected.
Also there were reports that a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ahmed Zanna in whose house a Boko Haram Commander Shuaibu Mohammed Bama was last week arrested is currently linked with illegal importation of arms and ammunitions to equip some insurgents in Borno State.
Zanna who until he was elected Senator in 2011 was said to have been involved in the illegal importation of arms and ammunitions through his Hajj By Road Transportation business where intending Muslims Pilgrims pay and get transported by road to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj , using the opportunity to import armaments to the country.
There are fears that considering the unpatriotic nature of many Nigerians, tons of ammunitions could have been buried undetected in many locations in the country sparking a major fear of impending arms proliferation and more Boko Haram onslaught and blood lettings.