Nigeria seizes more illegal arms


An illegal arms shipment intercepted this week at Nigeria’s busiest port came from Belgium through Germany, a navy spokesman says. The shipment that includes nine trucks, pistols, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, bulletproof jackets, military boots and other related banned items, was seized at the Lagos port weeks after the discovery of a weapons cache sent from Iran.

“I can confirm to you that the origin of the impounded consignment of arms, military equipment and vehicles is Belgium. The vessel came to Nigeria via Germany,” Captain Kabir Aliyu told AFP. He added a number of Nigerians had been arrested in connection with the find, but refused to give details because of an ongoing investigation.

Aliyu said the military items were packed inside a vehicle painted in army green, while eight heavy duty trucks painted in military camouflage were also impounded. Small Union Jack stickers had been placed on some of the vehicles, but the spokesman said they seem to have been used as a disguise. “They are eight heavy duty trucks painted in (military) camouflage with UK flag on them,” Aliyu said in an SMS message to AFP.
“Some of them (trucks) are suspected to be carrying communication gadgets. They were alleged to be purchased from Belgium and shipped from Antwerp…to Nigeria,” he added. Aliyu said that the pistols, ammunitions, bulletproof jackets and other items found “were alleged to be souvenir for having served in the US Marines” [sic]. He did not give details on the identity of the ship that brought in the consignment, its owner or details of the arms, saying that the current investigation would shed more light on them.

Officials at the Belgian embassy in Nigeria were not immediately available for comments on the latest shipment, AFP added.

Reuters reports Nigeria’s secret service last month intercepted 13 containers in the country’s main port of Lagos, finding rocket launchers, grenades and other explosives and ammunition sent from Iran. Officials said the arms appeared bound for Gambia. Nigeria reported the seizure to the UN Security Council as it could put Tehran in breach of sanctions imposed over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear activities.

Tensions are rising ahead of next year’s general elections in Africa’s most populous country of 150 million people, which has witnessed voter fraud and violence.