Police operatives in Ogun state have intercepted and confiscated a mini truck conveying 34,865 live cartridges through Ilara border from the Republic of Togo en route Onitsha, Anambra state.
The Police also arrested three suspected gun runners, Isa Muhammad, Togolese; Alabi Fayemi and Seyi Bamgbose, both Nigerians in connections with the crime.
According to the Ogun State Command of Nigeria Police, the ammunition-laden truck and the suspects were arrested by a stop-and-search, border patrol team at Olohunda, a border town that links Abeokuta North and Imeko Afon local government areas of the state.
Speaking at the parade of the suspects at the Imeko Police station on Saturday, Ahmed Iliyasu, Commissioner of Police, Ogun State Police Command, said the suspects were arrested by Police Border Patrol led by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Shettima Muhammad.
Iliyasu stated that the cartridges were concealed inside the mini truck with the Registration number Lagos, KSF 254 XX and was billed to offload its contents in Onitsha, the Anambra state capital.
The Police Commissioner said that the suspects attempted to bribe the officers on duty as the Police had been on the gun runners’ trail since about six months before they were finally caught by Police.
The Police boss, who declared that the extant laws of the land would be invoked on the suspects, said, “Our operatives on border patrol led by ACP Shettima Muhammad while on routine patrol of the border area based on intelligence, intercepted a Toyota Dyna Mini truck with Registration number KSF 254 XX with some cartons neatly concealed therein.
“The mode of the concealment aroused the suspicion of our men consequent upon which the vehicle was stopped and properly searched. Upon the search, 34, 865 live cartridges were discovered in the cartons neatly concealed inside the vehicle.”
While interrogating Isa Muhammad, who is the prime suspect, he said the vehicle was given to him by one of his Nigerian customers based in Onitsha to help drive.
Isa said since he didn’t have a valid driver’s licence, he approached another friend of his, Bamgbose, who is a qualified driver to help in driving the vehicle while he served as a motor boy.
According to him, the vehicle was successfully brought into Nigeria from Republic of Togo and they were en route Abeokuta for a repair work on the vehicle when they were arrested by the Police.
While denying knowledge of the ammunition, Isa said he didn’t know the name of the man that gave the vehicle to him and would have taken the vehicle to Onitsha thinking it was empty.
Isa said, “I am 36 years old, I was a bus conductor but I told the man who introduced me to the job to get me acquainted if he gets a better job for me. He later called me that he has one small vehicle but I told him that I don’t have a driver’s license but I have some of my friends that can drive.
“When he called me that the vehicle was available, I called this my friend (pointing to Seyi) so that we can venture into Charcoal business.
“We took the vehicle from Togo and when we got to Nigeria, Seyi said the spring was too small for charcoal business and we were taking it to Abeokuta to fix the spring. On our way, the Police stopped us and said they were suspecting the vehicle but we said we didn’t know anything about it, we thought it was the documents that they (Police) were talking about.
“I don’t know the owner of the motor but he does come to Togo to buy vehicles and Okirika (used clothes ) and when he gave me the vehicle, he said we should bring it to Onitsha and call him when we get there. We were not aware that anything was concealed in the vehicle we thought we were driving an empty vehicle.
“Our understanding was that when we get to Onitsha, we will be doing the real job. I have called him immediately we were arrested and he spoke with the Police”
Corroborating Isa, Bamgbose, also said that he was only called upon by Isa for them to collaborate and engage in charcoal business.
“I know Isa in Idi Iroko border and he used to sleep in my house whenever they come to Nigeria with his boss. One day I told him I didn’t have a job again because my vehicle was sized by the Customs.
“Recently, he called me that a vehicle is available and I was happy because he told me it was a new vehicle. We went to Togo where the vehicle was packed, I observed that the vehicle was registered with Nigeria number.
“When we got to Nigeria, some of my friends told me that the spring of the vehicle was too small for charcoal business and I told him we should go to Abeokuta to repair the vehicle.
“While on the way, we were arrested at Imala and when I was asked to park, I complied because I know all the officers and I was sure the documents were up to date.
“I was even expecting the Police to name their price since I know all of them but the story was different. Initially I thought the vehicle documents were not genuine but they told us later in the day that there was Indian hemp and ammunitions in the vehicle and I stated laughing because it was an empty vehicle.
“We were taken to the Station, this morning and even when we got to the station, I insisted it was an empty vehicle but when they started offloading, I was equally astonished, I didn’t expect what I saw from the vehicle because it was right in our presence that the content of the vehicle was offloaded.”
RAZAQ AYINLA, Abeokuta