IF you are a wholesaler of grains, you may need to tread softly. Criminals now smuggle assault rifles like the AK-47s and pump actions in sacks of beans.
Two of such daring gunrunners recently met their Waterloo. The suspects, Chimezie and his accomplice Badang were arrested in Lafia by operatives of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), while trafficking AK-47 rifles, carefully hidden in a sack of beans, from Nasarawa State to Anambra State.
Chimezie from Ekusigo in Anambra State, who claimed to be a member of Anambra Vigilance Group, said his village recently came under attack in which his colleagues, including the chairman of the vigilance group were killed and their weapons carted away by unknown gunmen. The suspect, who claimed to be a CCTV installer and dealer in other security gadgets, said he had been taking refuge in Abuja since the attack on his village and needed to go back with weapons to defend himself and his group.
He added that he traveled to Namu, a village in Plateau State where he once lived and dId business until crisis broke out to get the weapons.
On getting to the village, he approached an Igbo man, who introduced him to one Badang, a farmer who specialises in supplying weapons.
After the introduction, he told Badang that he wanted two pump action guns, but the latter told him that might not be possible. He promised to carry out a search and get back to him.
With the assurance, Chimezie left Mamu for Abuja to await a call from Badang. One week after he left the village, Badang called to inform him that he was able to get a locally made AK-47 rifle and asked if he was interested to enable him to commence negotiations with the owner.
He gave the go ahead and the owner agreed to sell the weapons for N250,000 each, totaling N500,000, which he agreed to pay. When Chimezie asked Badang how he hoped to ferry the guns to him and he told him not to worry that he would carefully load them in a bag of beans.
He requested for money to buy the beans and transportation which came to N575,000. Chimezie immediately sent the money to him.
Upon receiving the money, he bought the guns and a bag of beans for N45,000. He loaded the guns inside the bag very early in the morning at the market with the help of the man who sold the guns to him.
By morning, he took the bag to the park for onward delivery to Chimezie. He was, however, arrested by the IRT operatives. When Chimezie waited for some days and heard nothing from Badang, he decided to call him on the phone, not knowing he had been arrested.
Badang, who was then in police custody played along. He asked Chimezie to meet him at a motor park in Lafia. That was how he was arrested.
Police authorities said the suspects would be arraigned once investigations were over.