The federal government says the 2,671 seized pump action rifles illegally imported into the country from Turkey could be traced to Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The government said this on Tuesday as part of its submissions before the federal high court in Abuja while opposing IPOB’s motion challenging its proscription and declaration as a terrorist organisation.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) had intercepted the rifles on four different occasions this year — in January, May, and September.
In a counter-affidavit against IPOB’s motion, the government insisted that it is a violent group claiming to be non-violent.
The counter-affidavit, deposed to by Ayuba Adam, a litigation officer in the Department of State Services (DSS), referred to a said visit to Kanu by Abdukadir Erahraman, a Turkish citizen, in July.
The government said during the visit, the Turkish citizen urged “Biafrans to rise up and fight a good fight for freedom”.
The counter-affidavit read: “That a Turkish citizen, Abdulkadir Erkahraman, visited Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the respondent/applicant in Isiama Afara, Umuahia, Abia state sometimes in July 2017, and has been canvassing support for the secessionist agenda of the respondent/applicant.
“He also admonished Biafrans to rise up and fight a good fight for freedom.’
“That the Nigeria Customs Service had on four occasions this year intercepted pump action rifles totalling 2,671 illegally imported into the country. Copies of the report on arms smuggling is attached herewith and marked as Exhibit FGN 2A and 2B.”
IPOB has denied any link to the seized weapons.
In an affidavit countering government’s claim, IPOB said the 2,671 arms were not directly traced to Kanu.
The affidavit filed by Ifeanyi Ejiofor, IPOB counsel, read: “That contrary to the erroneous deposition in paragraph 6(h) of the applicant/respondent’s counter-affidavit which is denied, the alleged pump action rifles totalling 2,671, illegally imported into the country from Turkey, was not directly traced to Nnamdi Kanu or anyone associated with him.”
On hearing the submissions of the two parties, Abdu Kafarati, the judge handling the case, adjourned until January 17 for ruling on whether or not the proscription of IPOB should be rescinded.
In the course of its investigation, the NCS had named Great James Oil and Gas Ltd as the importer of the cache of arms — 470 guns impounded at the Tin Can Island port in Lagos and 1,100 weapons seized at the same port.
Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of NCS, had said Great James Oil and Gas Ltd used a vessel, AVS Arkas Africa, to ferry the intercepted weapons into the country.
The service, however, did not name the owners of the company at the time.
But according to a report by Daily Trust, Ayogu Cyril, Ayogu Kelvin and Ayogu Great James registered the firm in July 2011.
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