More revelations emerge in Customs’ seizure of 1,580 arms

Revelations have continued to trail Great James Oil and Gas Limited, the company linked with the illegal importation of 1,580 guns into Nigeria.

On September 11, the men of the Nigeria Customs Service intercepted a 20-foot container at the Tin Can Island Port with 1,100 pump-action rifles concealed in wash basins.

8 days after this discovery, another container was found at Tin Can Island Port with 470 pump-action rifles concealed among small connecting pipes.

While addressing journalists on the seizure, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), said the rifles were falsely declared as elbow plumbing plastics.

He named Great James Oil and Gas as the owner of the two containers and the firm that imported the 1,580 guns from Turkey into the country.

Ali had earlier hinted that the pump-action rifles were written under product description on the original bill of lading for the consignment, noting that the importer in connivance with the clearing agent had doctored the documents when they got to Nigeria.

Searches by Punch had uncovered a Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme certificate issued to the importer.

The programme, involving a set of conformity assessment and verification procedures applicable to all products imported into Nigeria, was introduced in 2005 by the Federal Government to address the challenges of incessant influx of substandard and unsafe products into the country.

The scheme, it was learnt, was designed to ensure that imported products would meet the specifications of acceptable standards for the protection of Nigerian consumers from unsafe and substandard finished products.

The SONCAP certificate is a mandatory document required by the Customs for clearance of goods.

Our correspondent observed that the certificate with reference number IMP061711547S was issued to Great James Oil and Gas Limited for the importation of non-cellular strip, a chemical used as raw material in the manufacture of shoe soles.

The Head, SONCAP, SON, Frank Onyeji, confirmed that the certificate was issued in June.

The certificate listed the address of the importer as No. 1 Warehouse Road, Apapa, Lagos.

On a visit to the three-storey office complex in Apapa on Monday, our correspondent was told that there was no company called Great James Oil and Gas in the building.

The receptionist at the gate also insisted that the firm had never been an occupant of the building, which also houses a tax and logistics firm.

Reports have linked three men, Ayogu Cyril, Ayogu Kelvin and Ayogu Great James with the firm. They were said to have registered the firm as its directors on July 20, 2011 with a Corporate Affairs Commission registration certificate number RC 968675.

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