Dangerous threat to Nigeria’s security by lack of effective patrol of its international borders heightened yesterday, as 35 Artillery Brigade of 81 Division Nigerian Army intercepted 300,000 live cartridges smuggled into Nigeria through Benin Republic border.
The cartridges, which were packed in small cartons, were concealed in false bottoms of three heavy duty trucks, which passed several checkpoints before they were intercepted at Igbogila-Ilara area of Ogun State.
The trucks which were presumed to be empty had gone past several checkpoints until they got to Ilaru village, a town bordering Benin Republic, where they ran into personnel from the artillery brigade and other sister services.
The drivers and their crew fled upon sighting the security team, prompting the eagle-eyed personnel to conduct a thorough inspection of the trucks, even though the vehicles looked empty.
Upon searching one of the trucks, the personnel saw the false bottom which was covered with metal, to create the illusion that the truck was empty.
When the metal cover was forcefully opened, hundreds of cartons of cartridges of 12 mm caliber were found concealed underneath.
While briefing the press on the discovery, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division, Major General Enobong Udoh, said the arrest was based on a tip off received from well-meaning Nigerians during the anti-illegal bunkering, anti-pipeline vandalism and anti-smuggling patrols.
The GOC who was represented by the 35 Artillery Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Olaniyi Olatunde, said the trucks were intercepted in conjunction with the police, the Department of State Security (DSS) and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
He said the three trucks weighing five tonnes with vehicle registration numbers: ANAMBRA AAH 409 ZV, LAGOS BDG 782 XU and LAGOS GGF 88 XU were loaded with thousands of live cartridges.
He explained that on getting to Balogun village, along Igbogila-Ilara road, Ogun State, they were intercepted and live cartridges in boxes and cartons were carefully concealed and sealed in a false-base made up of wooden platform with metallic plates.
The GOC said, “The drivers and their crew on sighting troops abandoned their trucks and fled. A team is on the trail of the fleeing drivers, their crew, corroborators and sponsors as investigation is ongoing.
“I wish to use this opportunity to thank the people of Lagos and Ogun states for their continued cooperation and urge them to always give timely information.
“I pledge not to relent until the area is rid of all forms of cultism, smuggling, vandalism and other violent criminal activities and elements.”