Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Russians Nabbed In Nigerian Waters With Guns And Ammo

Fifteen Russian crew members of a Dutch- flagged boat were picked up in Nigerian waters with guns and 8,500 round of ammunition, leading authorities to believe they were weapons smugglers.

The vessel was intercepted over the weekend in Lagos, Navy spokesman Commodore Aliyu Kabiru said by telephone. The vessel, owned
by the Moran Security Group, based in Moscow, was flying a Dutch flag, he added.

There was no immediate comment from Moran. A breakdown of the weapons, provided by Rear Admiral Ameen Ikioda, listed 14 AK47 rifles with 3, 643 ammunitions and 22 Benelli MRI 20 barrel rifles with 4, 955 ammunitions adding that more weapons could still be discovered inside the ship.

“Investigations are still ongoing," said Kabiru. He gave no further details. Lieutenant Commander Jerry Omodara said the vessel had left the Cook Islands in the South Pacific and arrived in Nigeria's waters early Saturday.

"There is no indication that the vessel was authorised to come into Nigeria and worse still, to carry arms," he said, adding that the ship and crew were being detained for further investigation.

Arms smuggling is a flourishing enterprise as the country battles an Islamist insurgency in the north, organized armed robbery and kidnapping gangs in the south and oil thieves and pirates in the southeast.

The country is also sometimes used as a conduit for shipping arms into other parts of West Africa or the world.

In 2010, a consignment of rocket launchers, grenades and other explosive from Iran was seized at Lagos, causing a diplomatic incident between the two countries, and later between Iran and Senegal, which accused Iranian security forces of using the route to supply weapons to its Casamance rebels.

This was the second incident in a month to involve Russian sailors. Last Monday, pirates off the coast of Nigeria kidnapped six Russians and an Estonian during an attack on their ship, Bourbon, a French shipping company.

A website for the Moran Security Company had the following: "Our strategies are based on in-depth knowledge of complex international and local laws, as well as a keen awareness of the cultural practices and customs of the host country.

"We maintain rigorous recruitment standards, certifying that our team members have acquired proper skills during military training and civil service. We offer targeted approaches in the world’s current hot spots, such as the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, which include the enlistment of local experts in these dynamic and highly sensitive environments.

Omodara said the vessel was currently docked at the navy's Beecroft's harbour in Apapa, Lagos.

Source: SaharaReporters

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