One of Nigeria’s leading news platforms, Premium Times NG, in an exclusive report uncovered how a former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun allegedly stored arms and ammunition at an illegal armoury at the Government House, Abeokuta.
According to the newspaper, the report, which was based on independent accounts of top national security sources, said ex- governor Amosun kept armaments in his official lodge in contravention of extant firearms regulations.
Newsheadline247 understands that Senator Amosun in what was termed ‘effusive denial’ declined daily requests for comments from Premium Times NG for over five days but would later circulate a denial barely a day after the ‘arm scandal’ story was published and sparked nationwide uproar.
On Tuesday night, the embattled Ogun State former governor issued a rebuttal to the Premium Times NG reports which highlighted how he stored arms and ammunition at an illegal armoury at the Government House, in the state capital.
The senator’s 11-item response, signed by his spokesperson, Rotimi Durojaiye, and published on his Twitter handle, is reproduced below in full.
According to the well circulated response, Durojaiye said ,“the true and factual accounts regarding a routine exercise that took place at the Ogun State Governors Office, Abeokuta in the morning of Tuesday, 28 May, 2019 as part of Handing Over processes and formalities from the then out-going to the in-coming Administration.
“It is rather interesting and ironic that a routine, bona fide and patriotic disposition of the Senator Ibikunle Amosun, CON, FCA has been so savagely twisted in a premeditated effort by Premium Times and its sponsors to stand logic on its head. It is important to clarify that NOT A SINGLE AK 47 RIFLE was handed over at the event.”
Read the full statement here Arms Scandal: Ex-gov Amosun speaks out on importing guns, ammunition
The rebuttal has however triggered some questions which Amosun needs to answer satisfactorily if his story is to hold water – Premium Times NG
The questions are presented below.
HERE ARE THE QUESTION MR AMOSUN NEEDS TO ANSWER
Premium Times NG has now raised questions about what Mr Amosun’s denial, despite its lengthiness, failed to address: the legal basis for his deliberate storage of controlled weapons in an armoury tucked inside the Government House.
- According to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA)’s guidelines for procuring arms and ammunition in Nigeria, “end-user certificate requests for arms and ammunition must be made by approved security agencies on behalf of themselves or their qualified vendor.”
Might Mr Amosun be willing to tell Nigerians whether or not himself or Ogun State is an approved security agency in Nigeria?
Only an approved security outfit is allowed to import arms and ammunition into Nigeria. Alternatively, the ONSA guidelines permit security agencies to seek end-user certificate on behalf of a qualified arms contractor, who will then procure the shipment and immediately hand it over directly to the security agency on whose behalf the equipment were imported.
Under item six of his statement, Mr Amosun confirmed this procedure, writing: “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.”
If as Mr Amosun claimed the contractor got end-user certificate to import the weapons on behalf of the police, how then did the large cache find its way to Mr Amosun for prolonged storage at Government House?
2 Part II Section 3 of the Firearms Act said: “No person shall have in his possession or under his control any firearm of one of the categories specified in Part I of the Schedule hereto (hereinafter referred to as a prohibited firearm) except in accordance with a licence granted by the president acting in his discretion.”
The categories of firearms prohibited under Part I of the Firearms Act Schedule include artillery, apparatus for the discharge of any explosive or gas diffusing projectile, rocket weapons, bombs and grenades, machine-guns and machine-pistols, military rifles, namely those of calibres 7.62 mm, 9 mm, .300 inches and .303 inches, revolvers and pistols whether rifled or unrifled (including flint-lock pistols and cap pistols).
According to Encyclopaedia Britannica AK47 is a gas-operated, 7.62 mm assault rifle.
Might Mr Amosun be willing to tell Nigerians whether or not he received approval from former President Goodluck Jonathan to store arms and ammunition at Government House?
3. Although Mr Amosun claimed he gave the guns to the police since 2012, he admitted keeping the ammunition in his possession until his last day in office. The police commissioner also admitted receiving the ammunition from the former governor.
But this is what Part II Section 8 (1) of the Firearms Act stipulated about ammunition: “No person shall have in his possession or under his control any ammunition in respect of any firearm referred to in the Schedule to this Act except in accordance with the terms of a licence or permit granted to him and in force in respect of such firearm.”
Might Mr Amosun be willing to prove to Nigerians that he had a valid licence or permit to keep AK47 until May 28, 2019? For him to be able to legally keep AK47 ammunition, the senator will have to prove that he had a valid licence or permit to be in possession of AK47.
4. Under item seven of his statement, Mr Amosun said he kept the weapons in an “approved designated armoury within the Government House.”
The Firearms Act made provisions for the establishment of only two categories of armoury: registered dealer’s armoury and public armoury.
Part III Section 10 of the Firearms Act recognised two types of armouries — a registered firearms dealer armoury and a public armoury.
Part III Section 13 of the Firearms Act said: “The President may, by notice in the Federal Gazette, establish or recognise public armouries for the deposit of firearms and ammunition and prescribe the officers to be in charge thereof.”
Might Mr Amosun be willing to provide Nigerians with either his licence designating him as a registered dealer in armoury or a presidential gazette that authorised him to establish a public armoury at the Government House or that recognised the Government House in Abeokuta as a public armoury?
5. Were the police not aware that Mr Amosun had an armoury at the Government House for a protracted period of time? If they were, were they not aware that such was in violation of the country’s Firearms Act?
Mr Amosun said police nominated the contractors, any reason why the police did not immediately take possession of the delivery as they have done for so many years across so many states that have supported them with equipment?
6. Mr Amosun said at the event that he procured between two and four million bullets. In his statement, he said he procured two million bullets. Accepting that Mr Amosun procured two million bullets, why did the commissioner only find over one million? What happened to the rest?
7. Mr Amosun said he handed over the AK47 rifles and some vehicles, including utility trucks and APCs, to the police after the equipment arrived, who authorised him or Ogun State to keep the rest in an illegal armoury?
8. Might Mr Amosun be willing to clarify whether or not it is legally permissible and logical for arms or ammunition to be lawfully acquired in 2012 for an urgent security crisis and then warehoused at the Government House for seven years before, only to be turned over to the police conveniently a day before he left office?
9. In a video recorded after the handover on May 28, Mr Amosun said he personally monitored the equipment and only gave approvals and keys to the police whenever they needed weapons.
Do the police have a record showing the number of times they went to Mr Amosun to collect weapons on ‘take-as-they-need’ basis over the last seven years?
10 Finally, under item seven of his statement, Mr Amosun said most government lodges maintain designated armouries. His claim suggests more than half of Nigeria’s 36 governors operate illegal armouries. Might the former governor be willing to mention some of the lodges in the interest of national security?
More Reports: Premium Times NG