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Customs seizes ₦1.5 billion illicit arms shipment from Turkey, arrests suspect

This inventory included 148 pieces of drones, 172 pieces of ballistic vests, 15 pieces of ballistic plates, one ballistic helmet, eight walkie-talkies, 9,172 military and paramilitary badges, 20 camouflage uniforms, 100 camouflage vests, 172 camouflage caps, and 120 binoculars...

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Customs seizes ₦1.5 billion illicit arms shipment from Turkey, arrests suspect

In a significant operation at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, the Nigeria Customs Service has seized a cache of illicit arms, drones, and military equipment valued at ₦1.5 billion.

The interception, announced by Comptroller General Adewale Adeniyi, underscores the ongoing efforts to curb illegal arms trafficking into the country.

According to Adeniyi, the operation was initiated following intelligence received from both local and international sources. “On June 19, 2024, Customs personnel were strategically deployed to monitor exit points around the airport. During routine inspections, a suspicious item was identified within a consignment originating from Turkey, marked with airway bill number 235-58737755”.

Further scrutiny revealed that the shipment, initially suspected to contain regular goods, concealed 55 pieces of unassembled Jojef Magnum (Tomahawk) semi-automatic shotguns. “The firearms were ingeniously hidden using a shower faucet, pointing to sophisticated smuggling techniques employed by the traffickers”. The Duty Paid Value of these illicit arms alone amounted to ₦270,888,109.29.

In addition to the firearms, the intercepted consignment also included various military and paramilitary gear. This inventory included 148 pieces of drones, 172 pieces of ballistic vests, 15 pieces of ballistic plates, one ballistic helmet, eight walkie-talkies, 9,172 military and paramilitary badges, 20 camouflage uniforms, 100 camouflage vests, 172 camouflage caps, and 120 binoculars.

READ ALSO: Customs operatives in Rivers seize 800 rifles, ammunition, drugs worth billions (Pictures)

Adeniyi highlighted that the total value of the seized items, encompassing both arms and gear, reached ₦1.5 billion. He further emphasized that “investigations revealed a pattern where Nigerian nationals residing in Turkey were involved in purchasing, packaging, and exporting illegal arms to Nigeria”.

Following the seizure, a suspect linked to the illicit arms importation was apprehended. The individual is set to be handed over to the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, overseen by the National Security Adviser’s office, for further investigation and prosecution.

This latest operation comes shortly after another significant seizure by Customs officials in Port Harcourt, where 844 rifles and 112,500 rounds of ammunition were intercepted.

The continued vigilance and proactive measures by the Nigeria Customs Service underscore their commitment to safeguarding the nation against illicit arms trafficking and related threats.

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