Nigeria Investigating Origin of Illegal Weapons; Yet to Confirm Iran Link


(Bloomberg) Nigeria’s customs authority said it was still investigating an illegal shipment of weapons including rockets, grenade and mortars and couldn’t confirm reports that the arms came from Iran.


“The report that the shipment is from Iran surely forms part of our investigation, but at this stage we are still investigating,” customs spokesman Wale Adeniyi said in a phone interview from Lagos yesterday. “We don’t have any concrete evidence yet to suggest where the weapons came from.”


Nigeria intercepted 13 shipping containers with weapons concealed in them, Marilyn Ogar, a spokeswoman for the security forces, said on Oct. 26. Four days later, French shipping company CMA CGM SA said an Iranian company used one of its vessels to illegally transport the arms from Bandar-Abbas, Iran to Lagos after labeling them as “packages of glass wool and pallets of stone.”


The weapons were possibly headed for the Gaza Strip, Haaretz newspaper reported on Oct. 28, citing an unidentified senior Israeli official.


Iran won’t comment on the weapons seizure so as not to “add to the confusion already existing,” its embassy in Nigeria said in a statement handed to reporters in Abuja today. “It is better to wait until the government reaches a conclusion.”


The Embassy hasn’t received any report from the Nigerian government of the arrest of Iranian citizens in the country, the statement said.


Security agents finished searching all 13 impounded containers on Oct. 30 and the exact number of arms recovered from them is being collated, Adeniyi said.


“CMA CGM is cooperating fully with all the relevant authorities, local and international, to ensure those responsible for the shipment are recognized and that anyone trying to break the vital security regulations are stopped and face the appropriate sanctions,” the company said on Oct. 30.