The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Adewale Bashir Adeniyi, revealed on Monday that a 40-container loaded with 844 rifles and 112,500 pieces of live ammunition originating from Turkey has been intercepted in Onne Port, Rivers State.

Addressing journalists on how the container was intercepted on Monday, the Customs CG revealed that the Rifles and ammunition were concealed using various items such as doors, furniture, plumbing fittings, and leather bags.

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According to the Customs CG, “Good day and welcome to this important press conference at the Nigeria Customs Service Port Harcourt Area II Command, Onne. Today, we gather to inform you about the recent significant developments in our operations to secure our nation’s borders.

“Gentlemen of the Press, you may recall that at a press briefing of this nature held recently at the Tin-Can Island Port Lagos, I had disclosed attempts by criminal elements seeking to exploit our trade facilitation-friendly posture to compromise our processes and procedures.

“With our robust risk management system, we have always remained a step ahead of their moves. When these attempts revolve around revenue generation, our automated audit systems at different levels enable us to trace, track, and recover the revenue.

“However, when efforts are geared towards creating actions that will produce irreversible consequences for national security, our alert level is elevated to match the threats posed to us.

“And so it was the case with this 1 by 40-foot container, MAEU165396, which originated from Turkey and, based on a number of risk factors, became a subject of interest.

“We had followed its sail across the continents, as we benefited immensely from credible information produced through our collaboration with the intelligence communities, both at the local, national, and international levels.

“Working within our local structures, we followed diligently as the importer attempted to circumvent our procedure through the outlet of a private bond terminal.

“Consequently, on Friday, June 21, 2024, the suspicious container was subjected to a thorough physical examination. The examination result revealed the following alarming contents: 844 units of rifles and 112,500 pieces of live ammunition.

“The breakdown is as follows: 764 units of Tomahawk Jojef Magnum Black Pump Action Rifles; 10 units of VC Verney Caron Gunmakers Jojef Magnum Silver Pump Action Rifles; 50 units of VC Verney Caron Gunmaker Double Barrel Rifles; 20 units of VC Verney Caron Gunmaker Single Barrel Rifles; Exclusive Series, Sterling High-Quality Live Ammunition and 34g – 25 Plastic Shotgun Shells (70MM)

“The rifles and ammunition were concealed using various items such as doors, furniture, plumbing fittings, and leather bags. The duty-paid value of the container is ₦4,171,710,000.00.

“In connection with this, we have three suspects in our custody after securing a detention warrant from a competent court of justice. Furthermore, a thorough investigation is ongoing to ensure all those involved face the full wrath of the law.

“In another development, our officers, through synergy, collaboration, and intelligence sharing, on Saturday, 29 June 2024, intercepted yet another 8by40ft container on transit to a bonded warehouse from Onne Port.

The container numbers are TCKU6879285, CMAU5985012, CMAU7515384, CMAU4297020, SEKU5488437, BMOU4363156, MRKU4616024, and MRSU3068928.

“Upon examination, six of the eight containers were found to contain the following: 1,050,000 bottles of CSC Cough Syrup with Codeine (100ml); 3,500,000 tablets of Trodol Benzhexol Tablets (5mg); with Duty-paid value of ₦9,600,000,000.00.

“The remaining two containers were laden with 720 bales of used clothes with a Duty-paid value of ₦144,000,000.00

“The total duty-paid value of the nine displayed containers is ₦13,915,710,000.00.

“In line with the provisions of the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023, the following decisions have been taken with respect to these containers:

“The 40-foot container of evil, bearing 844 units of assorted Rifles and 112,500 pieces of live ammunition, is hereby seized, alongside the other contents previously highlighted.

“The items would be handed over to the Coordinator of the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, under the office of the National Security Adviser, for diligent investigation and ultimately rigorous prosecution.

“The suspects arrested would be handed over to the Centre for further processing. We will work diligently with other government agencies to apprehend all other cohorts and death merchants involved in this monkey business.

“The eight containers whose contents were wrongly declared to evade duty payment and the Prohibition Order are hereby declared seized.

The licences and permits issued for the operation of all the warehouses and terminals, as well as those of their customs agents involved in these cases, are hereby suspended pending the determination of their involvement.

“Customs officers who are found complicit in the perpetration of these nefarious acts would be heavily sanctioned in a manner that would be approved by the Board of the Nigeria Customs Service.

“Officers who kept faith with the oath of allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and refused to be bribed into releasing these containers will be adequately rewarded in a manner provided by the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023.

“As I conclude, let me warmly commend the professional commitment of the Customs Area Comptroller of Onne Port, Mohammed Babandede, and through him his officers and men, for the meticulous approach deployed to this operation.

“I also acknowledge our various partners, local and international, who provided us with the much-needed information to successfully prosecute this operation.

“Finally, this seizure serves as a strong warning to others who may be contemplating similar misadventures. My message to them is simple: we will run you out of business.

“The Nigeria Customs Service, under my leadership, will not tolerate any action that compromises the economy and security of our beloved nation.”