Foodstuff dealer nabbed with 250 cartridges
A 55-year-old man (name withheld) apprehended with 250 cartridges by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Benue State has expressed regret over his action and is pleading with the authorities to be lenient with him.
The suspect, who was paraded at the agency’s headquarters in Makurdi, the state capital, identified himself as an Igbo foodstuff trader based in Jalingo, the capital of Taraba State who traveled regularly to Onitsha to buy food items which he retailed at a market in Jalingo.
He told Daily Trust that officials of the NDLEA intercepted the vehicle he was travelling in at Alaide in Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State.
“I was returning from Onitsha where I went to buy foodstuff which I sell in Taraba when the NDLEA officers arrested me in Alaide with cartons of cartridges which some vigilante groups asked me to buy for them,” the suspect said.
According to him, the driver was unaware of the content of his luggage which was neatly packed in several cartons because he had boarded the vehicle along the roadside to avoid the prying eyes of motor park loaders.
The suspect, a father of five, also said he was diabetic, pointing at a deep wound on his feet.
He expressed remorse for his action, saying, “I’m so embarrassed. My wife and children are not happy with me.”
The suspect added that it was the first time he ventured into the arms business which he procured from Onitsha market at the rate of N45, 000 after buying food stuff for his normal business.
Meanwhile, the NDLEA State Commander, Florence Ezeonye, who paraded the foodstuff seller alongside a middle-aged woman and a 23-year-old young man for allegedly committing various crimes, said the ammunition peddling suspect would be handed over to the appropriate security agency for the law to take its course.
Ezeonye explained that her eagle-eyed officials on stop-and-search duty at the Alaide area had swooped on the foodstuff dealer after they suspected the contents of the cartons arranged under the seat of the old luxurious van conveying both passengers and goods to Taraba enroute Benue.
She said the suspect had a mixed parentage - an Igbo father and a Jukun mother so he could speak Hausa and Igbo languages fluently, an advantage which he used to ward-off security suspicions at check points.
“My officers noticed that he was pushing the cartons which he hid under the vehicle seats with his feet as they were searching luggage and when they insisted on knowing what was concealed in the cartons, he alighted and started engaging them in Hausa language.
“The suspect further tried to convince them that he only supplies soup ingredients to customers in Taraba but it turned out that he was carrying arms. My men found out that 250 pieces of cartridges were concealed in the 15 cartons belonging to the suspect,”
The suspect paraded by the police.