By PHILIP NWOSU
A Russian vessel allegedly laden with arms was yesterday arrested by operatives of the Nigerian Navy in Lagos. The vessel with was identified as MV MYRE SEADIVER was alleged to be carrying more than 14 assorted Kalashnikov (AK 47) rifles, and 22 Banelli MRI rifles with 3,643 and 4,955 rounds of ammunition respectively.
Daily Sun learnt that the vessel which carried a Russian crew was flying a Dutch Island Flag and belongs to the Moran Security Group of Moscow. The Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Ameen Ikioda told Daily Sun that investigation was on going and the vessel was being searched for more weapons.
He added that the vessel had no business in the territorial waters of Nigeria and that importation of weapons was against the country’s laws. He said: “As part of our activities in Lagos to ensure we create legitimate maritime businesses to thrive and anytime we see something that is infringing on that, we try to see how best we can address it. It was part of this effort that led to arrest of the vessel, MV MYRE SEADIVER.
We discovered that she came into our waters without due notification which is an infringement on the laws of this country.” It was further learnt that the vessel was arrested on Friday by the Nigerian made NNS Andoni and another Israeli made vessel in the inventory of the Force known as Shaldag. Few weeks ago, President Goodluck Jonathan had tasked the newly appointed Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba to get down to work immediately, and fish out the criminals within the country’s territorial waters. Moreovet, Daily Sun leant that the crew members are being detained until investigations are concluded.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had on January 19, 2012, seized seven containers at the Lagos Sea port, on board a Chinese vessel, MV FENG CHAN, and handed them over to the Nigerian Navy for custody.
In the wake of the seizure and the rumours that the contents were bombs allegedly imported into the country by the Boko Haram, the Federal Government set up a committee comprising virtually all security agencies in the country to determine the contents of the containers and its owners.
Briefing newsmen at the completion of the investigation on the content and owners of the containers and the return of the items to its original owners, Chairman of the Committee and Admiral Superintendent of the Naval Ordnance Depot, Commodore Odunitan Funmilade Oduyemi, maintained that the committee established that the containers, though laden with ammunition, were not meant for the dreaded religious sect.
Rather, Oduyemi said that the riot guns, smoke guns and 57 cases of long and short range shells, actually, were ordered into the country by the Nigeria Police Force but not Boko Haram.