From Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
The Kebbi State Commandant of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN), Alhaji Sanusi Ibrahim Gazah, disclosed on Monday that his men attached to Zamare water side area, Yauri Local Government, have arrested two suspects for allegedly smuggling 73 locally-manufactured guns and 450 weapons into the State.
Gazah, who confirmed this to newsmen in an interview in Birnin Kebbi, said that the VGN were the one who handed over the suspects and weapons to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The vigilante boss explained that the seized weapons were concealed inside bags of paddy rice, adding that his men subjected the vehicle to thorough inspection..
According to him, ‘they intercepted one container loaded with bags of paddy rice. The weapons were conceived inside the loads in their vehicles. When they arrested the two suspects and impounded the container truck. They invited the Customs officers and police that were around. They took the seized vehicle to Customs office where they discovered 73 guns inside those bags of rice. And 450 weapons (cartridges) were found.
‘They arrested two, but two suspects are at large. Both the two suspects and the weapons have been handed over to the customs. The two suspects ran away,’ he said.
Earlier, the Commander of the VGN at Zamare water side, Alhaji Zakari Zamare, told newsmen in Yauri that the group intercepted the vehicle after it was transported by ferry boat from the River Niger in Zamare upland.
He said that ‘the members of the community in the area participate and give more emphasis to community policing; hence we are doing it voluntarily to protect ourselves and community.
‘As we were on our routine duty, we had seen a vehicle laden with bags of locally-produced rice and we suspected what they contained in them, which resulted in vigorous investigation of the bags.
‘We used our local equipment, penetrated the bags deep down and we discovered a suspected iron, and that was what led to using knife and tearing the bags.
‘In the first bag, we discovered 14 local guns, on seeing the discovery, people in the area trooped in and we did not want a situation where the locals will take the law into their hands; hence we took the suspected driver and his assistant to the nearest police station for onward transferring [sic] them to Customs office and necessary investigation.’
He added that the suspects were together with the owners of the rice, saying that they disappeared in the crowd as soon as they had observed the interception of the vehicle.
‘They were tailing at their back as soon as they observed the vehicle got clearance from one blockage to another; they tailed a bit but when we caught the suspects, they just disappeared,’ Zamare said.
The Commander revealed that the bags contained 73 local rifles and 443 ammunition, explaining that all the rifles were loaded with ammunition.
The Public Relation Officer of the NCS, DC Joseph Attah in a statement in Abuja had confirmed the incident, stating that that the Service had intercepted a truck loaded with locally-produced rice with some sacks concealed under the rice.
‘Upon careful examination the bags were found to contain 73 locally-manufactured guns and 891 cartridges. Three were immediately arrested and are being detained while preliminary investigation is ongoing.’