FG to probe arms seizures link to 2019 polls

The Federal Government is set to probe the possibility of any connection between the seizures of arms at the Lagos port and the 2019 general elections .
The Minister of Information and Culture , Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who confirmed this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Saturday , said the government was concerned about the constant importation of arms into the country by unauthorised persons .
Mohammed said the government was determined to get to the root of the matter and assured Nigerians that the matter would not be swept under the carpet .
The minister said government and security agencies were aware that smugglers were abandoning the ports for bush paths , through which they smuggled arms and ammunition .
He said , “ The government is going to get to the root of the matter . We will apprehend those behind it. We already know where the arms are coming from . We won ’ t cover anybody up .
“ The latest one which was intercepted, we don ’ t know the importers for now , because nobody came to clear them .
“ What they do now is to import from the country of origin and move to a country where they can ship the consignment which will end up in a country that shares a border with Nigeria from where they would be brought in by road . ”
On whether the arms were brought for the 2019 general elections , the minister said, “ As soon as we know who the importers are , we will know . We will investigate this point as well . ”
Meanwhile , President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concern over the upsurge of illegal arms importation into the country .
The President , who is currently in London and expected back in the country on Monday, said this in response to enquiries from Sunday PUNCH, on Saturday .
Buhari spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity , Femi Adesina , in a telephone interview .
In response to a question as to whether the President was worried about the seizures , Adesina said, “ He is concerned . ”
According to him , “Any leader that loves his country must be concerned about arms seizures like that and President Buhari is a patriot that loves Nigeria dearly.
“ So , he should be concerned . Whether it is linked to the politics of 2019 , I don’ t know . It is after investigations that that will be known. ”
In response to a specific question whether the matter is being investigated , he said, “Naturally , yes it is being investigated . When it is concluded, the President will naturally get the report. ”
Lack of scanners responsible for arms importation – Customs source
Investigations by SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday showed that the absence of functional scanners at the nation ’ s ports may be responsible for the increasing rate of importation of arms into the country .
This year alone , the Nigeria Customs Service had on four occasions intercepted pump action rifles smuggled into the country totalling 2 ,671 pieces .
Sources within the NCS confided in one of our correspondents that the service was concerned about the absence of functional scanners at the port to enable the agency to effectively scrutinise containers in line with global best practices .
The source said members of the syndicate perpetrating this act decided to step up their actions owing to the fact that the Federal Government had yet to provide scanners at the ports .
The official, who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity as he was not officially permitted to speak on the matter , said the service had fine - tuned it strategies to enable it conduct examinations of consignment at the port .
This source said , “ We are concerned that arms are being imported at a time when we have pockets of security challenges.
“ We need to ask why there is an increase in the interest to bring this type of items at this time when we have pockets of security challenges. Is it because some of these people are aware that we don ’ t have functional scanners at the port .
“ Unfortunately , as we speak, there is no functional scanners at the port but very soon the situation will change. ”
Attempts to get comments from the Public Relations Officer of the NCS , Mr . Joseph Attah, were not successful as calls made to his phone did not connect while a text message sent to him was not responded to.
DSS probes source
Meanwhile , the Department of State Services is currently investigating politicians over the recent seizure of arms in Lagos , SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
Apart from politicians , it was gathered that the secret police is also monitoring the activities of members of the outlawed Independent People of Biafra.
Top sources of the service told one of our correspondents that security agencies and the Federal Government were rattled by the constant seizure of arms at the ports .
There were fears that some of the arms might be linked to people planning to unleash terror on innocent Nigerians ahead of the 2019 elections .
Investigations by one our correspondents in Abuja also showed that the Nigeria Customs Service had asked the DSS to investigate the source or sources of the arms and those behind it.
It was gathered that the customs had already sacked some of its personnel linked with the illegal importation and would soon charge the affected oficers to court .
One of the sources said, “ The customs service asked us ( DSS) to investigate the source or the sources of the arms . We are doing it.
“ However, we are not limiting our investigation to any particular group . While we have placed some politicians under perpetual watch , we are also investigating the brains behind IPOB. ”