Compiled by Oluwatoyin Amao
If a container fully loaded with sophisticated weapons like this was seized by the Nigeria Customs, then definitely it means such shady deals have been on-going for a very long time. One cannot ascertain how many of such arms have been imported so far into the country and their final destinations. The implication is that we are all in danger because like I said earlier, it can’t be the first time and who knows, it could be for either Biafra, boko haram or any set of groups that could be against the success of this government and the safety and security of every Nigerian. It will also affect the economic wellbeing of the country because no investor or business can succeed in an insecure environment.
It is obvious that security in our country seems to be porous. It shows that the security personnel in Nigeria have much to do; if security agencies cease to function effectively, different forms of crimes will continue to befall our country. I will recommend training and retraining of the security personnel in order to discharge their duty effectively and efficiently.
I feel in Nigeria we are not secured because for this to have slipped through Customs and it was not intercepted at the first point of entry, is really a big issue. Customs is one of the most corrupt agencies of the Nigerian government and I don’t think the present administration can do anything about it. An average Customs officer’s mind is so corrupt to the extent of getting rich immediately he/she resumes office. Their mind sets are not after the diligence of their portfolio but the riches.
Johannesburg, South Africa
The recent seizure of 661 guns by Customs is a bad omen and a signal to how porous our borders are. The security implication cannot be overemphasized with the already overheated security situation in the country. Questions need to be asked: Who are the saboteurs in the Customs service? Who ordered the shipment? What country and company did it originate from? In order to get to the root of the matter, the culprits should be dealt with and forestall future occurrence.
The seizure of the rifles would reduce the rate of criminal activities in the country because it was intercepted and could not reach its final destination or end users such as boko haram, Fulani herdsmen and so on. What the government should do is to enforce all laws relating to importation and exportation of goods in and out of Nigeria. This will ensure all security agencies to be more alert because the recovery of such cache of arms is a huge success and this is to create more alertness to citizens.
I feel the government should ensure that the weapons can be sold to other governments that may need them. The police and military personnel can be trained on the use of these weapons and they can be distributed for use and if none of the above are appealing, they should be destroyed to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.
The main issue is that any illegal importation of arm is a threat to the national security and the issue at hand questions the existence of Custom officers at our various borders (land and ports). Who knows the number of containers of small arms and light weapons already cleared at the same port by some unscrupulous officers? Nigerians should be more worried because there is proliferation of these arms in Nigeria and the issue of insurgency, military, kidnapping and so on is aided with illegal arms imported into the country. Customs and other border patrol agencies must be up and doing in checking proliferation of these arms and weapons.
I see this statutory responsibility as a lack of professionalism, an epileptic situation which boils down to the issue of corruption affecting our system of importation and exportation and Nigeria at large. The effect of this security measure on these illegal arms would hinder the business activities rate for most legal importers and exporters in the country. I know of a freight clearing agent who complained bitterly about the security and stress he went through just to get a consignment processed out from the port. This porosity will affect most businesses because we cannot do without importation and exportation thereby contributing adversely to the economy of Nigeria.
The security implications directed by the Customs for examination of goods is now more thorough because some goods have to be trans-loaded before clearing of the consignment and I think this security enforcement would benefit the legal importers, the security of the country at large considering the fragile security situation within the country.
In a bid to ensure that business activities are not too hindered, the government should place a soft landing by ensuring after proper examination at the port by the Customs, the consignment should be released immediately. I feel the scanning machine used by Customs at borders and ports are not sophisticated enough and this is the part where our government need to come into action by providing our borders and ports with the necessary sophisticated equipment to support and eradicate illegal importation of goods. If this is properly tackled, then we can have a controlled and effective border system, port system that effectively operates in terms of what goes in and out of the country; which at the long run will help provide more security and less corruption in the country at large.
This arms and ammunitions definitely belong to some higher calibre of the people in power because no common man will have the courage to import except being influenced by the rich. The government need to really investigate and probe a serious case like this but I don’t think that is what is happening because we all are not safe in this country; pump action rifles have been banned if I can recall correctly. How come the ammunitions were imported and how come the so-called scanners at our borders and ports were unable to detect it? Definitely something is wrong and this serves as a warning to our government.
I must applaud the Nigeria Customs Service in their crusade against unscrupulous elements that parade themselves as legitimate officers and this shows Nigerians can count on their unflinching support as regards our safety in this country. What I feel the government should do is to inspire and support these officers with all the necessary equipment to do more for the country.