A Lagos-bound Russian vessel, has been detained after explosives were found in it by South African authorities. The explosives and weapons reportedly valued at about R50 million, was discovered by South African ports authorities in the course of operations at the Port of Ngqura, just off the coast of Port Elizabeth.
The vessel said to have left Madagascar was stopped near Port Elizabeth in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, and its contents were discovered following a tip-off after the ship had offloaded 14 containers at the port.
Speaking on the detention of the Lagos-bound Russian vessel laden with explosives, Olwethu Mdabula, spokeswoman for the Transnet state transport company told AFP;
.“We are aware that she has dangerous cargoes – explosives and weapons – on board.”
“This is a very, very sensitive matter. It is receiving attention,” spokesman for the Hawks police investigative unit, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, told the news agency, confirming the vessel was carrying weapons.The discovery of the ship said to have been stacked with “weapons and explosives worth about $3.5m in 20 containers” followed an anonymous tip-off.
While the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed told The Guardian he did not have any information on the issue as at press time, it was gathered that an investigation into the owners of the vessel is currently being done by the Hawks which is a South African criminal investigative organisation. The vessel, named Lada, is currently anchored 15 kilometres off the Nelson Mandela Bay coastline.
Recall that it was reported that a total of 21,548,608 arms and ammunition, was shipped into Nigeria illegally between 2010 to 2017. According to the data obtained from the headquarters of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), the largest cache of ammunition of 21,407,933 live ammunition was intercepted at the Apapa port in November 2010 while 1,100 pump action guns were seized at Tin-Can port in September of 2017. National Spokesman of the Customs, Joseph Attah labelled low compliance level on the part of importers as a major challenge confronting the Service.