Christopher Oji, Lagos
A few days after the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, declared war on illegal arms dealers and possessors, the Lagos State Police Command has arrested a local gun manufacturer and two of his arms suppliers.
The gun manufacturer and blacksmith, Shapraku Umade, an indigene of Benue State, told reporters that he was angry that he had betrayed the trust of his people.
‘I am angry because my family is in trouble. We are four in our community contracted to be producing gun for our community. We produce the gun to confront Fulani herdsmen who are thorns in our flesh. We have been instructed not to sell to anyone, but to our community. The chiefs will deal with my family for betraying the trust bestowed on me.
‘We can manufacture AK-47, Baretta pistol, pump-action, double and single barrel guns and other sophisticated guns. We can also produce ammunition, but all were to fortify ourselves against herdsmen invasion. Our people have been suffering in the hands of herdsmen, so we the real and talented blacksmiths were gathered for the job. We have been stockpiling arms and ammunition for war because we are at war in Benue. Our arms can compete with that of the Western world because we were well trained by our parents. Once we get a sample of any gun, we must produce it and it will be difficult to differentiate between our guns and that of the Western world. If the government can make use of us, we can produce sophisticated guns for Nigeria.
‘It was the devil that pushed me to sell to the hoodlums in Lagos. My wife is about to deliver and I needed money badly; that was why I sold two pistols to a man in Lagos. The man did not pay me, so when I requested for the money, he asked me to meet him in Lagos. When I arrived, the man lodged me in the hotel. It was while we were in the hotel that the police came and picked us. I can’t say what really happened to my people.’
Lagos State Commissioner of Police Mr Hakeem Odumosu, who paraded the suspect alongside 300 others for various offences, said: ‘The gun manufacturer and his suppliers were arrested in Ajah area of the State when they came to deliver some arms and ammunition to some armed robbers. On August 8, information was received from a credible source that some arm merchants, based in Adipo area of Benue State, were bringing arms and ammunition to Ajah area of Lagos to sell to some armed robbers and cultists. Sequel to the information, SARS operatives were mobilized to Ajah to closely monitor the area.
‘The exercise paid-off as three of the arms dealers were arrested in a hotel at Lekki, by Jakande Estate with a shuttle bag containing two locally made Barretta pistols. The suspects are Shapraku Umade, 19, Moses Anzuur, 19, and James Tsebee, 20. Shapraku Umade is the blacksmith who fabricated the firearms. He acquired the skills from his late father. It was revealed that the suspect usually sells the guns to their Lagos collaborators at the rate of N30,000 each. He has been in the illicit business for the past two years. An investigation is ongoing. The suspects will be charged to court as soon as the investigation is completed.’