According to a report by The Guardian, security agencies yesterday morning intercepted 300,000 cartridges that were smuggled into Nigeria through the Benin Republic border. The cartridges were concealed in a false base of three heavy-duty trucks and had successfully gone past borders until they were intercepted at Igbogila-Ilara area of Ogun State.
Although the drivers and crewmembers fled, upon closer inspection, the trucks were deemed empty until the security operatives unearthed the large cache of ammunition.
When they opened the metal cover, hundreds of cartons of cartridges of the 12-calibre were found concealed underneath.
Revelations have, however, emerged on how the unknown smugglers, allegedly aided by some policemen, tried to deceive security operatives to smuggle the three truckloads of arms and ammunition into the country, through the Ogun State land border.
The smugglers had declared the trucks as empty with the aim of deceiving officials of the Nigerian Customs Service at Owode-Ilaro Road in Ogun, but the officers suspected foul play and played smart on the smugglers’ team, which include some policemen in uniform.
The trucks were intercepted in Balogun village, near Egua in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun, by military officers attached to the 35 Artillery Brigade of 81 Division, Nigerian Army in Alamala, Abeokuta.Ogun State Area Command Public Relations Officer of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, who confirmed the incident to The Guardian yesterday, said the soldiers were able to intercept the trucks.
He explained: “There were three trucks that passed through our approved checkpoint escorted by policemen. We saw that those trucks were not empty, so we enquired from the police officers and they said that the vehicles were suspected stolen vehicles and that they are conveying them to one of their units for further investigation.
“We decided to allow them thinking that they were doing their constitutional duties. Then, we were not satisfied and our men decided to follow the vehicles until they got to an army checkpoint and the officers intercepted them. The army have their own intelligence, so they were able to open the trucks and discovered that the arms and ammunition were carefully concealed.
“I cannot ascertain the quantity, but what I can tell you is that those items were incriminating. It was intercepted and opened in the presence of customs and other law enforcement agencies. They took all the trucks to one of their formations in Lagos,” he said.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Ogun State, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said: “I don’t think there is anything concerning police in the matter.” He directed The Guardian to find out from the Nigerian Army.
While briefing the press on the discovery, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, Major General Enobong Udoh, said the arrest was based on a tip-off received from well-meaning Nigerians during the anti-illegal bunkering, anti-pipeline vandalism and anti-smuggling patrols.
The GOC, who was represented by the 35 Artillery Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Olaniyi Olatunde, said the trucks were intercepted in conjunction with the police, the Department of State Security (DSS) and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The arms and ammunition intercepted yesterday
The three trucks weighing five-tonnes with vehicle registration numbers: ANAMBRA AAH 409 ZV, LAGOS BDG 782 XU and LAGOS GGF 88 XU, were loaded with thousands of live cartridges.On getting to Balogun village, along Igbogila-Ilara road, Ogun, they were intercepted and live cartridges in boxes and cartons were carefully concealed and sealed in a false-base made up of wooden platform with metallic plates.
The GOC said: “The drivers and their crew on sighting the troops abandoned their trucks and fled. A team is on the trail of the fleeing drivers, their crew, corroborators and sponsors as investigation is ongoing. Members of the public are encouraged to continue to always reach out by contacting the nearest military barracks for timely useful information or call the following numbers: 07069353889 and 08060492529 (Ojo), 07017064979 (Badagry), 08034347484 (Victoria Island), 08065992320 (Ikeja), 08069097624 (Owode), 08065806870 (Ikorodu), 07064281177 (Obalende), 08053862233 and 08057705135 (Abeokuta).”
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