The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), on Tuesday met with the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Hakan Cakil, over the recent seizures of pump-action rifles imported illegally into the country from Turkey.
The meeting, which was held at the headquarters of the Nigeria Customs Service in Abuja, lasted for almost two hours.
The Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Mr. Joseph Attah, said in a statement that the meeting dwelt on how to fashion out ways of dealing with the recurring cases of illegal arms importation from Turkey.
This year alone, the NCS had on four occasions, intercepted 2,671 pump-action rifles smuggled into the country.
The service had in January seized 661 pieces of pump-action rifles, which were found in 49 boxes.
In May, the operatives intercepted 440 assorted pump-action rifles and on September 11, 2017, another 1,100 rifles were intercepted at the Tin Can Island. All of these originated from Turkey.
Specifically, the CG was said to have expressed concern that four different arms seizures with a total of 2,671 pump – action rifles were coming from one source –Turkey.
This, according to him, appears to suggest complicity on the part of the Turkish government.
At the end of the two-hour meeting, the statement said the Turkish ambassador restated his country’s support for Nigeria’s security and well-being, noting that Turkey would not support any dangerous shipment of arms to Nigeria.
Cakil, according to the statement, said that all the four shipments intercepted by the NCS had false declarations on their bill of lading.
This, he noted, was a clear case of smuggling.
The statement explained that the ambassador agreed to communicate to his home country the outcome of the investigations from the NCS as this would help fish out the criminals behind the illegal arms shipment.
The statement read in part, “Following concerns expressed by the general public on the recent seizure of pump-action rifles from Turkey, the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria had a meeting with the management of the Nigeria Customs Service to fashion out ways of dealing with the disturbing issue.
“The meeting which lasted for about two hours was frank and detailed with specific commitments. The Turkish Ambassador restated his country’s support for Nigeria’s security and well-being, saying that Turkey would not support any dangerous shipment to Nigeria.”
The statement added the CG and the Turkish ambassador both agreed that a team of the NCS should visit the Turkish customs to further discuss ways of nipping such arms export from Turkey as well as strengthening agreement on mutual assistance.
It was also agreed that the NCS would provide the Turkish authorities with a list of prohibited items in Nigeria, noting that in the case of arms, a sample of End-User Certificate would be made available to enable them to always verify before approving any legal arms export to Nigeria.