26 June 2019

Nigeria: Nothing Sinister About Amosun's Arms Importation, Says Presidency

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(file photo)

The presidency last night dismissed an allegation that former governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, illegally imported massive weapons and ammunition into the country, saying preliminary investigation by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, showed that there was no sinister motive in the former governor's action.

An online news portal, Premium Times, had published a story on Monday night, claiming that Amosun imported without appropriate permits, 1,000 AK47 assault guns and four million rounds of ammunition.

But a presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a text message response to THISDAY's enquiry, said following a preliminary investigation by the police boss, the presidency did not think Amosun had sinister motive in importing the guns and ammunition.

"The IG of police, Adamu Mohammed has undertaken a preliminary investigation [and] is issuing a statement on the issue of those guns in Ogun State. At this early stage, we don't think that there is anything sinister about the whole issue," he stated.

Last night, however, Amosun in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Rotimi Durojaiye, denied handing over the alleged large arms and ammunition, stating that all its arms importations were authorized by the presidency under former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

Although he acknowledged that upon the winding down of his government, he handed over some ammunition and armored vehicles to the Ogun State Police Command, he denied that guns were involved in the exercise.

"Not a single AK 47 riffle was handed over at the event," he said.

The media aide explained: "It is important to stress that this was not the first time that Senator Amosun, whilst in office as governor and former chief security officer of Ogun State would be handing over security assets to the police. The particular exercise of 28 May, 2019 was done openly in the full glare of the public and the media to ensure accountability, guarantee transparency and judicious use of the assets.

"In May 2011 when Senator Amosun assumed office, the biggest challenge that confronted Ogun State was insecurity. Political assassinations, unnatural and unexplained deaths were prevalent. In Ogun East for instance, which comprised of 9 of the 20 LGAs at the time, the entire business and financial institutions architecture had become comatose as no bank or such institutions could open for business in the entire senatorial district.

"Cultism, kidnapping for ransom, violent crime and tertiary institutions related criminality stank to high heavens. Ogun West was totally ravaged by cross border banditry, unbridled smuggling and economic sabotage. Ogun Central, though relatively calmer, had its fair share of the very low security index that our state had sunk at the time. No resident, in good conscience, could sleep at night with two eyes closed. "In the World Bank Ease of Doing Business, 2010, Ogun State was ranked as Number 35 out of 36 as industries and corporations fled the state in droves.

"Senator Ibikunle Amosun took the firm view that nothing would thrive in an atmosphere of insecurity. He, therefore, decided that early to confront the myriad security challenges headlong and thereby open up Ogun State to private investment under a secured environment.

"The SIA administration convened a security parley amongst all stakeholders. The parley gave rise to the Ogun State Security Trust Fund (STF) under the leadership of a former Nigerian national security adviser. The deliberations and recommendations of the STF and the far-reaching initiatives of government have delivered consistent peace of mind, economic prosperity and social progress for all within the borders of Ogun State and even beyond since 2012. We note with immense pride that the same Ogun State, generally regarded as a back-water state in terms of security rallied round strongly to emerge as one of the most peaceful and the best place to work and live in Nigeria.

"The SIA administration sought help from the then President Goodluck Jonathan-led federal government. First, we sought and got approval to set up "OP MESA" for Ogun State. We followed this up with the specialized QRS unit. We committed substantial funds into procurement of hard and soft ware, and, myriad security assets to decisively combat our security challenges. We got all necessary approvals from the Office of the National Security Adviser to procure the 13 units of Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), the 1000 units of AK 47 rifles, 2 million rounds of ammunition,1000 units of bullet proof vests and 500 bullet proof helmets and other security communication gadgets.

"Ogun State not only got approval to import these essential assets, the federal administration under President Goodluck Jonathan, gave all requisite approvals to assist the state. The federal government through the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) issued the State the End User Certificate Serial Number 000001123 dated 5th of March, 2012. The Federal Ministry of Finance also granted Import Duty Exemption Certificate through a letter from the Honourable Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy with Reference Number BO/R.10260/S.4/T.4/22 dated 10th April, 2012.

"Indeed, the supplier was an accredited agent of the Nigeria Police Force nominated for the job by the force, who also monitored and supervised the transaction. The security materials were cleared through the Murtala Muhammed Airport and confirmed through Nigeria Customs Memo NCS/MMAC/012/S.1. The materials were publicly handed over to the Inspector General of Police MD Abubakar on 22nd April, 2012 wherein he acknowledged that: 'I have served in all six geographical zones of this country. I have never seen the kind of equipment you are donating to security agents today. This is the first of such maximum donation I have ever seen since I have been serving as a police officer.'

"Suffice to say categorically that the AK47 rifles were supplied directly to the Nigeria Police, Ogun State Command. The rest of the merchandise were securely kept in the approved designated armoury within the Government House precincts under police surveillance as it obtains in most Government Lodges, to guarantee exclusive use of the materials in Ogun State. These are not matters for the public.

"The suggestion that the security assets were quickly handed over to the police in order that the new administration will not know about it is laughable because the current Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR was the main supplier of some of the assets in question, notably, the Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs).

"As a governor who understood and took the responsibilities of his office seriously, Senator Amosun was mindful to account for and properly hand over the remainder of the security items to the police and the new administration. On 28 May, 2019, the last of the APCs, and all other security assets under the custody of Ogun State Government were passed over to the police in full glare of the media and general public. We believed that was the surest way to prevent these assets getting into the wrong hands."

Ogun Police Command Deny Receiving Arms from Amosun

The Commissioner of Police, Ogun State Command, Mr. Bashir Makama, had earlier in the day denied receiving large volume of guns and ammunition from Amosun, saying he took delivery of an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), 1,400,000 live ammunition from the former governor.

The police boss, in a telephone chat, stated that the Force Headquarters, Abuja, was aware of the handover of the weapons to him, shortly after the last general elections when he assumed office in May.

Makama explained that shortly after his assumption of office, Amosun put a call through to him to come for the leftover weapons the state government procured and kept at the Government House, located at Oke-Igbein, in the heart of Abeokuta, when he (Amosun) assumed office in year 2011 as the fourth executive governor to combat the growing menace of criminal activities in the state.

The state police boss said: "I didn't receive any firearms from the immediate past Governor Ibikunle Amosun, but he only handed one APC, 1,400,000 live ammunition to me.

"When I assumed office in May I received a call from the then governor, who asked me to come for the leftovers of the weapons that the state government bought to combat violent crimes in the state, upon his assumption of office in 2011. That he (Amosun) didn't want the weapons to remain at the Government House before leaving the office.

"The Force Headquarters, Abuja, was aware of the development, because I had to do it officially.

"But surprisingly, I couldn't imagine how traditional and online media have started to drop my name in connection with the half of a story."

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