A combined team of security operatives led by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Friday impounded 11 cartons of explosives weighing 95kilogrammes (kg) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja.
The Customs Area Comptroller at MMIA, Charles Edike, who parading suspects linked with the illegal importation, said the explosives were smuggled from South Africa into Nigeria on February 24 along with other items likebullet-proof jackets, security cameras and naval belts, but labeled as cartridges, powder devices and chargers.
But, following an alert by officials of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Limited (NAHCO), security agencies swopped on the consignments kept in the handling agency’s warehouse at the airport and seize them.
Mr. Edike said the security agencies became suspicious when they observed that the importer wanted to smuggle them out of the cargo terminal without undergoing normal clearance processes as well as pay the relevant duty on them.
He explained that the importer, who claimed to be a miner in Kaduna State, brought in the explosives into Nigeria concealed in pallets containing other goods, without due disclosure of their contents, thus contravening government regulations.
On interrogation, the suspected importer later affirmed to security agents that he colluded with some clearing agents to take the explosives out of the cargo terminal, without securing the relevant police permit or making any duty payment.
Following the uncovering of this attempt to avert checks, the NCS was said to have informed other relevant agencies, including the Nigeria Police, to carry out some tests on the items, which were found to be prohibited explosives.
The Customs boss gave the name of the consignee as Miero Marble Granite and Stones Limited in Kaduna State, while one Michael Awara Ernest was the representative detailed to collect the explosives at the cargo terminal, while the name of the manufacturer (consigner) of the explosives was given as Nobleteq Arms and Ammunition of Gateway Industrial Park in Centurion, South Africa.
Mr. Edike explained that it was prohibited for any person or organisation to import any explosives into the country without relevant approvals and permits, adding that the explosives had been handed over to the police and other security agencies for proper investigation, to ascertain the motive for the items.
“There was no documentation or duty paid,” Mr. Edike said. “The explosives were concealed in pallets containing other items. Even the law does not permit that any consignment can be released without physical examination, which must be done after the relevant payments have been made. In this case, the explosives were almost released, but the vigilance of our officials led to the discovery.’’
He warned that the long arm of the law would catch up with operators who did not abide by government rules and regulations.