A former governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, reportedly confessed to the state’s Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, that he had in his possession thousands of arms and millions of ammunition in store at a secret armoury in Government House, and that he had decided to hand them over to the police.
Premium Times NG is reporting that the embattled former governor made the confession few hours to the end of his reign as Ogun State helmsman.
Recall that Amosun’s anointed candidate for the March 9 governorship election, Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), had been roundly defeated by Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress and the governor was now desperate to clear the Government House of any incriminating material as Mr Abiodun moved in to take charge.
Report closely monitored on Premium Times NG said shortly after he was contacted, Commissioner Makama raced to Government House with some of his subordinates. On arrival, truckloads of arms and ammunition were brought out of a nondescript amoury inside the Ogun State Government House.
And then begun a short hand-over proceeding during which the governor surrendered at least four million rounds of ammunition, 1,000 units of AK47 assault rifles, 1,000 units of bulletproof vests and an armoured personnel carrier (APC).
At the event, Amosun said he procured the arms and ammunition to check the widespread insecurity in his state of 3,751,140 residents, according to the 2006 census. He said he decided to keep them at the Government House Armoury to ensure they were not allocated indiscriminately by security agencies.
The speech making over, the arms and ammunition were driven to the police command headquarters in the Elewe-Eran area of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
Four weeks after the event, top Nigerian security operatives remained alarmed that a civilian governor would create an armoury and store thousands of arms there. The agents are also wondering why Mr Amosun has not been arrested and prosecuted for violating sections of the Nigeria Firearms Act.
The law forbids individuals and civilian institutions from illegally operating armouries or possessing prohibited firearms, including 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).
It remains unclear how Mr Amosun obtained the weapons. Authorities are wondering how he imported the weapons, and how he transported them to Government House and stored them for prolonged periods without being detected.
Some security experts say they are suspicious he might have acquired far more weapons than he gave up to the police and that some of them might be in wrong hands already.
The former governor, now senator, declined to give his own side of the story. He did not answer or return telephone calls made to him over five days. He also did not respond to text and WhatsApp messages sent to him.
When contacted, his media adviser, Rotimi Durojaiye, requested this reporter to email him the questions meant for Mr Amosun. Five days later, Mr Durojaiye is yet to respond with answers.
The newspaper gathered in this report that the purchase of arms by Amosun is “absolutely troubling, illegal’
Authorities at Nigeria’s key security agencies told PREMIUM TIMES Mr Amosun may have procured the arms and ammunition without securing End-User certificates from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA). End-User certificates are absolutely required to import controlled products into Nigeria.
A guideline by the NSA office stipulates that End-User Certificate requests for arms and ammunition must be made by approved security agencies on behalf of themselves or their qualified vendors. Neither Mr Amosun nor his state is an approved security agency or qualified security equipment vendor.
“In line with international best practices EUCs for arms and ammunition are to be obtained before the shipment of the items from the originating country. These conditions equally apply for parts and accessories of all military armaments and hardware,” the guideline states.
A spokesperson for the Office of the NSA, the only government institution responsible for issuing end-user certificates, did not return requests for comments. But PREMIUM TIMES learnt from multiple sources within the agency that Mr Amosun or his state could not have been granted certificates to procure and store arms.
Also, the Nigeria Customs Service said Mr Amosun did not clear the deadly equipment through Nigerian ports, and that no one without an end-user certificate could be allowed to bring controlled items into Nigeria.
“Only the Office of the National Security Adviser can issue end-user certificate for importation of arms, and any person or organisation without the document cannot import weapons into Nigeria,” the spokesperson for the Nigeria Customs Service, Joseph Attah, told Premium Times NG, “I repeat: weapons can never be imported into Nigeria without end-user certificates.”