Premium Times news media yesterday published a startling news story alleging that the immediate-past Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun allegedly illegally imported over 1,000 units of AK-47 assault rifles towards the end of his tenure as governor. The weapons also included four million rounds of ammunition, 1,000 units of bulletproof vests, and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC).
According to the news report, close to the twilight of the former governor’s second tenure in office, he reportedly contacted the Ogun State Commissioner of Police (CP), Bashir Makama and confessed that he was in possession of such lethal arms and ammunition hidden in a secret armoury in Government House, Abeokuta. Amosun reportedly said he decided to keep them at the Government House Armoury to ensure they were not allocated indiscriminately by security agencies.
Since then, the police hierarchy have kept sealed lips on the event fuelling speculations among informed persons. Most security operatives and few privileged personalities who knew what transpired have remained alarmed that a state governor could create a secret armoury and store thousands of arms and ammunition there and especially under wraps.
They are equally alarmed that the Aide D’Camp and Chief Detail assigned to the former governor either kept mum, may have connived to perpetrate such criminal act, or were unaware that such happened right under their noses, even though they were assigned to perform official assignments there, which primarily include filing security reports to their head offices on the daily goings-on in such places, especially acts capable to lead to the breach of peace.
Another set of analyst opine that what happened in Ogun Government House is a tip of the iceberg of what had transpired or are still taking place in various State Government Houses and indeed in various homes or facilities owned by few privileged Nigerians. It is the consensus that concealment of vital information or negligence or connivance on the part of security officials have largely led to the debilitating security situation we are facing in the country at the moment in the country.
Otherwise, how can one explain the rising wave of banditry and armed insurrection in parts of the country inspite of the efforts of our security agencies at arresting such unwholesome situation? Recall that for more than 10 years, several Nigerians have perished under the wicked activities of armed persons who either come up as Boko Haram or other forms of terrorist gangs, killer Fulani herdsmen, kidnapers or simply passed off as bandits.
They have maimed, destroyed life and property and have made life unbearable to a large segment of our population. These illegal arm-bearing people have permeated virtually every nook and cranny of the country and are daily leaving traces of sorrow, tear and blood along their path.
Illegal arm bearers have been known to have sacked communities and even entire local government in the North-East, North-West and North-Central geo-political zones. They have equally left sour taste after their nefarious escapades in the South-East, South-South and South-West geo-political zones.
Not long ago and severally, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) made seizures of large cache of arms and ammunition imported by some unscrupulous elements, whose identities have up till now remained a mystery. It is not clear what the Customs have done with the discovery.
It should be recalled that the nation’s security agencies, particularly the State Security Service (SSS) had invaded the Akwa Ibom State Government House in search of alleged arms and ammunition and illegal currency allegedly stashed by the state Governor, Emmanuel Udom. Also, the Gwarimpa Abuja private home of former President Goodluck Jonathan was broken into by policemen detailed to provide security in the house with household items including refrigerators and air conditioners, were stolen. Just yesterday, the Abuja home of the Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishyaku was attacked by some policemen who claimed to be acting under instruction from the Presidential Villa. Bala Dan Abu, Special Adviser (Media) to the Governor alleged assassination attempt, witch hunt and high handedness by the federal government trying to frame the governor of gun running.
In the case of Amosun, tongues are also wagging as to why he has not been arrested and prosecuted for violating sections of the Nigeria Firearms Act even as at now. And they are asking: Is it a case of felons being welcomed to the APC and having their “sins forgiven”?
There is no doubt that the law forbids individuals and non-military or security institutions from illegally operating armouries or possessing prohibited firearms, including artillery, apparatus for the discharge of any explosive or gas diffusing projectile, rocket weapons, bombs and grenades, machine-guns and machine-pistols, military rifles (namely those of calibres 7.62 mm, 9 mm, .300 inches and .303 inches), revolvers and pistols whether rifled or unrifled (including flint-lock pistols and cap pistols).
It has therefore remains a surprise how Amosun brought in the weapons into the country, and how he took such to the Government House and safely stashed such for prolonged periods of time without being detected or exposed.
If Amosun could successfully import such cache of weapon into the country without being detected, one could imagine several other individuals who may have access to such facility in the country. Definitely, these arms passed through the Nigerian territory, either by air, land or by sea and there are agents of State whose responsibility it is to police these entry points.
If baggers the question as to why our leaders should always chose to defend those agencies or pass the buck in defence of obvious lapses of such agencies, being uncovered by purely civilian institutions, especially the media.
The bursting of the Amosun arms saga is something we should not gloss over. It is an indication that there could be several other privileged Nigerians who may have imported and are currently stockpiling arms or have already done so. There is the need to revisit the statements of the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshimhole, that “once you join the APC all your sins are forgiven”.
President Muhammadu Buhari and the nation’s security top shots owe explanations to the ordinary Nigerians on matters regarding these exposures. The president in particular has no reason not to rejig the nation’s security apparatus. It is increasingly becoming obvious that there are lapses in the system and only a rejig of these apparatuses could bring the security situation under control.