Customs intercepts explosives-laden container in Lagos

2011-09-24
THE PUNCH Newspaper- Comfort Oseghale


The Nigeria Customs service (NCS), Tin Can Island Port (TCIP), Apapa, Lagos, Friday intercepted a container load of explosive materials smuggled into the country from China.

The seizure is coming at a time when the country is apprehensive over the activities of members of the Boko Haram who have left many Nigerians dead through bomb attacks in the past few months.


Customs Area Controller (CAC), TCIP, Command, Comptroller Eporwei Edike who confirmed this in a chat with reporters at the command headquarters said the explosives were discovered through the help of some officials attached to Custom Investigation Units of the TCIP.


He stated that the consignee declared that the container contained toy and lantern but it was later discovered to be explosives of different shapes and sizes.

There was however a face-off between men and officers of the NCS and the Nigeria Police Force, as the Police Officer in charge of TCIP, Mr. Ahmed Z. Daura ordered his men to move some cartons of the explosives to unknown destination without the knowledge of Comptroller Edike.


The policemen were however asked to return the items for proper investigation, an instruction they are reluctant to obey.

Peace was however allowed to reign when Comptroller Edike intervened and settled the matter.


According to him, after the appropriate investigation, some of the explosives would be transferred to the anti-bomb squad while the remaining ones would be transferred to the Exhibit Room as waste.


As at the time of filing this report, it was not clear about those behind the importation of the explosives, and whether there is the involvement of members of Boko Haram.


Only recently, a bomb attack on the United Nation’s office in Abuja left many dead and several others wounded.


Many other Nigerians, including security operatives had lost their lives in the Northern part of the country, especially Borno State, as a result of bomb attacks masterminded by members of Boko Haram


However, the Tin Can Island Port has in the past few years remained the choice of importers wishing to bring in contraband.


Apart from a large consignment of arms and ammunition that was intercepted in Apapa last year, Tin Can Island has remained the choice of many importers of other dangerous consignments.


For instance, about a year ago, a container of cocaine valued at N4.5bn was intercepted at the port.


The two Chinese businessmen behind the importation have since been jailed over the importation.


More than two of such consignments have been intercepted by the Customs at the port, apart from other seizures of arms and ammunition.

The Customs Chief also disclosed that 10 containers containing vehicles and other items were also intercepted in the command through the help of men and officers of CIU who were scrutinising the items for security and safety.


He assured that there would be adequate security on the explosive materials found in the port.
He said men and officers of the command would do everything possible to get to the root of the matter to avoid any explosion that might lead to injury or death.

Though he did not disclose the name of the consignee and licensed customs agent involved in clearing the consignment from the port, he said everything possible would be done to ensure that all those involved in the importation of the container are brought to book.


 

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