Armaments Shipment:  Turkiye, Burkina Faso, Bad Influence To Nigeria

 By Stephen Ubanna

Bashir dewale Adeniyi, MFR, Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service,  NCS, who may have gotten much secret information on how the gunrunners operate   as a former National Public Relation’s Officer, of the service who had worked closely with some former Comptroller General,   is not ready to give a  breather to the criminal elements.

The current NCS. Leadership may have been encouraged to further put a close tab on   the shipment of cargoes, particular, arms and ammunitions into the Nigerian ports because of the recent moves by Ibrahim Traore, an Army Captain and Head of State of the West African country of Burkina Faso who now rely on Russia, Iran, Turkey, South Korea, and China for delivery of weapons bought elsewhere to his country and which could be diverted to another West African countries, Particular, Nigeria.

The activities of the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP,  in the north north eastern states of Borno, Yobe and the Bandits Group operating in the north western states of Kaduna, Katsina,  Zamfar, described as home state of the Bandits, Sokoto and north central state of Niger and  the ongoing political crisis in Rivers state may have  made Nigeria a ready market to sell arms  by the Turkish gun manufacturers and their distributors, worldwide.At present there are indications of inlux of Bandits from Burkina Faso into Nigeria as the  country’s military had turned their guns on the extremists balling the government over the years.

Recall hat on April 18, 2024, the Burkinabebe government had unveiled its new range combat drone, Akinci to enhance the country’s defense capabilities against regional terrorist and insurgent groups. The Head of the Burkina Faso military Junta, Captain Traore, had said that the two Akinci drone shipment from Turkiye are part of a larger set of the European country armaments required by his home country, which also includes five Bayraktar TB2 drones and a variety of guided and unguided ammunitions.

Many believe  that the introduction  of the  Akinci drones  had given credence to  BurkinaFaso ‘s increasing reliance  on Turkish  military products , indicating a shift  towards  new defense  suppliers  and partners  which may affect other West African countries , including Nigeria , with illegal shipment of Pump Action Rifles and other killer weapons.  

A security expert who spoke to The Value News on condition of anonymity disclosed that the Burkinabe imported arms and ammunitions are manufactured by the Turkish defense company Baykar, the Bayraktar Akincior Raider. 

Last January  the Asian country of China,  ammunition manufacturing company  Norinco , was said to have  delivered  a consignment  of new military hard wares to the West African country which includes  six WMA01s with a Command vehicle , along with  eight norinco 81mm CS/SMI self-propelled mortars, a type  that uses  a Dongfeng light tactical vehicle  which had not been seen in any country in the  West and Central African sub-regions.

The Burkinabe military Leader  had said   that the series  of shipping  containers  from the Chinese company  had been filled  with weapons  and ammunition  that included  a 60mm WW90 mortar, mortar rounds and rounds  for PG- type recoilless guns.

Until Burkina Faso turned its country as a dumping ground for Turkish and Chinese manufactured military weapons, President  Recep Tayyip Erdogan of  Turkiye  was said to have concluded  an  arrangement for further cooperation in the defense  industry  with the then President Muhammadu Bihari ‘s Administration.

Informed sources had told The Value News online Magazine that the defense agreement   had spelt out the principles of the mutual cooperation in the defense industry between the two countries or government agencies and private organisations that may be   approved by the parties to engage in the importation of arms and ammunition to Nigeria. This is because the lethal weapons manufacturing Companies   has been approved by the Turkish parliament‘s Foreign Relations Committee to sell arms and ammunitions to Nigeria.

There is currently  a North American country of the United States, US, $2 billion volume of trade between Turkiye and Nigeria.In November 021,  the Nigerian ministry of Defense  had held  a tender  for the purchase  of attack  helicopters  , at which  Turkish Aerospace  Industries  was said to have submitted  a bid for  its T-129 Attack helicopter.But the Nigerian government was said to have settled to buy  12  US AH-IZ attack helicopters which  the Defense  Security  Cooperation Agency , DSCA,  under the country’s Department of Defense , was said to have  delivered  the certification  notifying  the Congress  of the $1 billion deal in April 2022

There is no gain saying the fact that between 2017 and now , there have been several illegal shipment of pump Action or rifles from Turkiye to Nigeria market which had fallen  into the waiting hands of the Customs personnel at the nation’s seaports.

Adeniyi: CG, NCS

The latest of such  arms and ammunition shipment that was said to have fallen into the hands of Customs personnel was at the Federal Ocean Lighter Terminal, Onne, Rivers state.An elated  Adeniyi,  Comptroller  General of NCS, whose Administration , had witnessed two major armament seizures:  one at Tin can Island port and the latest being at the Onne port had revealed that   the  40ft. container  with registration  number MAEU16596 which had carried the pump Action or riffles  that had been discharged at he Onne port had originated  from Turkiye.

 The Customs helmsman had said that the ship carrying the 40ft Container loaded with arms and ammunition which had originated from Turkiye, had been under the surveillance of the service from the time it left the Turkish port and finally sailed to the Onne port to discharge its cargo in early June.

The no nonsense Customs Comptroller General had said that the Container was finally tracked and impounded on June 1, 2024,   when the importer with his clearing agent had attempted ‘’to circumvent port protocols’’as the 100% physical examination  which involves Customs and other security agencies personnel, including the Department of State Service, DSS, had discovered  that the suspected Container  had 844 units of rifles loaded in it.

Given a breakdown of the impounded and seized weapons at the Onne  port,  the Customs had said that it  includes  764 units  of Tomahawk Jojef Magnum Black Pump Action,  Rifles,  10 units  of VC Verney  Caron  Gun maker Double  Barrel Rifles, , 20 units  of VC Verney  Caron Gunmaker  Single Barrel  Rifles,  and Exclusive series,  High-Quality  Live Ammunition  34g-25 Plastic  Shotgun shells , 70 MM.

cUSTOMS Pump Action Rifles seizures at Onne port

 The Pump Action Rfles  loaded in the  physically  examined 40 ft. container was said to have been concealed   using various  items  such as  doors, furniture , plumbing fittings and leather bags.Valuation experts had put the Duty paid Value, DPV, of the seized arms and ammunitions at about N4.2 billion.

The Customs Comptroller General, may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he stated that  three suspects have been arrested  in connection with the imported lethal weapons from Turkiye  and are currently  in Customs custody  while investigations  are still ongoing ‘’to decipher  the circumstances  surrounding the shipment’’.

Security experts believe that if the Turkish Authorities, as represented by Mr. Hakan  Cakil,  a former  Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, had kept to pro the mise  made to Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and immediate past Customs Comptroller General of NCS, to launch an investigation  ‘’to fish out  those behind the illegal  importation  of firearms  from Turkiye to Nigeria’’, the gunrunners would  have stopped further  illegal shipment of arms into the  Nigerian market.

As at the time the then Turkish Ambassador made the promise on behalf of his home government in 2017,   the service had made a seizure of 61 Pump Action Rifles at the Tin can Island port shipped into Nigeria from Turkiye.

President Erdogan of Turkiye

The fear in both official and unofficial circles was that the different arms and ammunitions seizures between 2017 and now, from one source, clearly suggests ‘’the complicity of Turkish officials to the deal’’. Nigerians are watching to see how President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will handle the matter with his Turkish Counterpart, Erdogan, to avoid a repeat of such illegal arms and ammunition shipment to Nigeria in the future.

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