Sunday, 11 June 2017
Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Seized shipment of arms by port officials amplifies fear in Nigeria's volatile region
The Nigeria Customs Service had Tuesday announced the interception of a large shipment of arms and munitions at its major port, Tin Can Island.
Though the owner or destination of the large arms cache has not been established, citizens living around the volatile northeast Nigeria where Boko Haram insurgency has claimed well over 100, 000 lives and displaced about 3 million people, said such interception gives them huge worry about safety in the country.
Bashir Ahmed, a businessman in Maiduguri, Borno state, said, "we are disturbed by the news that Customs had seized a large container of arms and ammunition because hundreds of our people have been killed in this armed conflict called Boko Haram".
"We know Boko Haram have some sponsors whom we don't know yet; but for such large number of arms to be intercepted at the port, is a confirmation that some highly placed persons are behind all the armed insurgents all over the country".
He said he wants government to "thoroughly investigate those behind the smuggle of that container load of firearms into the country".
Mr. Ahmed Shehu, head of the Net for Civil Society Organization in Borno state, said the arrest of a container filled with assorted rifles was mindboggling.
"Had this container of arms not been intercepted by the Nigeria customs service, who knows if it would not have reached the northeast to further fuel the armed conflict of Boko Haram. And this is a bid source of worry for us.
"We are worried because we have been at the receiving end of such smuggling of dangerous arms into our country. Hundreds of our people, including those in the military have died because some people are providing arms for insurgents in this country.
"Therefore, from our end as members of the Civil Society the government must ensure that all those involved in the importation of arms should face the full wrath of the law.
"And failure to get the culprits arrested, we in Borno state will come out and protest, because we cannot allow the matter to be swept under the carpet", said Mr. Shehu.
The Nigeria Customs said the seized container was loaded with 440 arms and ammunition of various sizes and designs.
Mr. Monday Abue, Customs Zonal Commander, Tin Can Island Command, said the intercepted container has a registration number PONU 210024/1 that was shipped from Turkey and routed through the Lagos port.
He said document of the illegal shipment declared the content as Plaster of Paris.
The Customs officer said the 440 pieces of pump action rifles found in the container 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.
He said the illegal arms had almost escaped their scrutiny before it was nabbed.
"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 the Ports & Cargo Terminal, had through its parent company Sifax Group, denied the claims of the Customs Commander that the confiscated armament was cleared through its terminal.
"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."
Customs Spokesperson at the Tin Can Island Command, Mr. Uche Ejesieme, 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, 16 May 2017
Borno Shelves Closure of IDP Camps Due to Boko HaramOperations
|IDPs in one of the Camps in Maiduguri|
“Our number one priority was to ensure the security and safety of our people; hence we will not allow any IDP to return to any community that we are not 100 percent sure that they have regained their safety.
“When IDPs return to communities they will still need to go to their farms, go to markets and travel for socio-economic purposes. Hence we will make sure the farms are and routes are safe before we allow them to return”.
“Even while we do the review, we will continue with our aggressive reconstruction work; we will not wait even though we are optimistic that the entire Borno state will be safe.”
The governor thanked the VSF for its intervention which involved the rebuilding of schools, hospital and other administrative buildings of Bama Local Government Area as well as the palace of the Shehu of Bama.
He said the Bama intervention was the second major reconstruction project embarked upon by VSF. He recalled that the VSF had in 2015 made a donation of building materials worth N250 million for the reconstruction of 22 public buildings in Dikwa Local Government of Borno State.
“We remain eternally grateful to the VSF and the implementation officials especially the executive secretary and the deputy chairman of the foundation …for their empathy and passion for Borno”, he said.
Earlier, the executive secretary of VSF, Sunday Ochoche, said the VSF had in January this year donated building materials worth N295 million for the reconstruction of the earmarked public buildings in the destroyed town.
The Borno State government, according to the Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rebuilding and Rehabilitation, Babagana Zulum, provided N73 million to complement the VSF donation which he said was to care for labour and logistics needed for the reconstruction. The Deputy Chairman of VSF, Tijjani Tumsa, who presented the reconstructed buildings to the Borno State Governor, gave assurances that the relief agency would continue to assist Borno State in all its areas of need in the post conflict rebuilding efforts.
The VSF otherwise known as Nigeria Foundation for the Support of Victims of Terrorism was inaugurated in 2014 by the defunct regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan in response to the increasing need for relief to those in areas of conflict.
The foundation was powered by a N50 billion donation made by a cross section of wealthy Nigerians.
|Borno gov', Kashim Shettima surrounded by officials while inspecting|
works being done in Bama town (Photo by Blogger)
But with the attacks around the Sambisa forest, a fortress of the Boko Haram that was declared as captured by the military in December last year, the security agencies advised against moving the IDPs back home.
Mr. Shettima disclosed this in Bama town where he took delivery of 11 public structures that were rebuilt by the Victims Support Fund, VSF, after they were destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents two years ago.
The governor informed the people that moving into liberated communities has to be postponed due to the military activities around Sambisa forest.
“Our initial goal was for our people to return to their liberated communities before the next Ramadan fasting which comes at the end of May”, he said.
“But unfortunately, this is no longer feasible because the military are still carrying out operations in some areas around Sambisa as part of the mop up exercise. But we will continue to work with the military to review the situation.”
He said despite the setback, the priority of his government was to ensure the safety and security of the people.