***AS PDP CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION
BY AMUDA DAN SULAIMAN FAB
The Nigeria Customs Service said it had given the importer of the military wares which allegedly belong to the government of Kogi State, a 30-day ultimatum, to produce the End-User Certificate from the Office of the National Security Adviser.
The Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Mr. Joseph Attah, confirmed this during a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday.
The Service had confiscated the items at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. The imported items include 100 pieces of military camouflage, 26 pieces of military camouflage jungle boots, 20 pieces of plastic knives, 24 pieces of black bullet proof vests, and 28 black boxing gloves. Others are 26 pieces of arctic hunter bags, 40 pieces of training mats, 20 pieces of black batons, 100 pieces of black T-shirts, 31 pieces of protective glasses, 25 pieces of black sunglasses and 29 pieces of black uniform belts Attah told one of our correspondents that the agent, who imported the items, had been identified.
He said when contacted, the agent claimed that he was in possession of the End-User certificate, which is usually issued by the National Security Adviser. Attah said based on the claim of the agent, he had yet to be arrested as the service was still conducting investigations. He explained that the agent had been asked to produce the End-User Certificate within 30 days and that if he fails to do so, after the ultimatum, the items would be forfeited to the Federal Government.
He said, “We have identified the agent who imported the items and he claimed that he had the End-User Certificate. “We have asked him to produce it. He has 30 days to do that. If after the expiration of the 30 days period, then the imported items would be forfeited to the Federal Government.” Senator Dino Melaye had, on Thursday, raised the alarm that the Kogi State government was behind the military items illegally imported into the country. A source within the Kogi State Government, however, described the entire incident as ‘bad politics’. The source, who wished to remain anonymous because he wasn’t authorised to speak on the matter, admitted that some military items and security gadgets were imported for Kogi State Government’s use. He, however, denied reports that military uniforms were brought in. The source said, “We planned to buy vehicles and lace them with security gadgets, GSM security jamming system, bulletproof etc. So, we engaged a security firm, which helped us to procure the gadgets for the Kogi State Government and they required an end-user certificate to bring them in. “The governor wrote to the National Security Adviser over three weeks ago for the end-user certificate and we have evidence. The NSA is working on it even though it hasn’t been issued. “However, the consignment came in before the end-user certificate was ready. So, when the gadgets came in, the Customs challenged us and asked the owner of the equipment to come forward and the governor has sent his officials to the airport to claim the goods. “We didn’t import any uniform. We have the letter of the contract award.” Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party has described the linking of the alleged illegal importation of military items to the All Progressive Congress interests, particularly in Kogi State, as revealing. The PDP said Nigerians had been wondering how weapons and other military equipment got into the hands of marauders, who had been ravaging the nation, adding that the discovery could be an unfolding development, into which an open investigation must be conducted. It also expressed fears that the development could be part of the alleged plot by the All Progressives Congress to compromise the nation’s security system and set the stage for the intimidation of Nigerians during the 2019 general election. The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan in Abuja on Saturday, also asked the Presidency and military high command to immediately come out with explanations to Nigerians on how Governor Yayaha Bello of Kogi State allegedly secured the permission to import military items, a function exclusively under the purview of the Presidency and the military. He said, “From the reports so far, it appears that we are now having a clue into how weapons and other military equipment being used by marauders and criminals to ravage and murder our citizens are illegally sneaked into the country and by which interest.”