Jos-bound men with 27 guns arrested

Security agents have arrested six men who were trying to smuggle 27 rifles from Maiduguri to Jos, where internecine ethno-religious violence left hundreds dead since the beginning of the year.

Another man was also arrested with 25 guns, which he hid in a taxi wagon loaded with dried fish and planned to take to Wukari, Taraba State, also a zone of religious and tribal clashes.

Security sources in Maiduguri said the arrests of the two sets of gunrunners were done through combined efforts of the State Security Service (SSS) and the state police command, who acting on intelligence information trailed the suspects and nabbed them.

Borno state police commissioner Ibrahim Abdu confirmed that security men intercepted a number of rifles in two vehicles, but he declined to provide details so as not to scupper investigations.

Daily Trust learnt that the Jos-bound weapons were intercepted in a vehicle last week by men of the State Security Services (SSS), and the six yet-to-be-indentified men caught with the guns were being held in Maiduguri pending investigations.

As for the Wukari-bound guns, security sources told our reporter that on Thursday night, a commercial driver simply indentified as Haske was caught in a Peugeot 504 wagon carrying 25 AK-47 rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition just when he was about leaving Maiduguri.

Haske had on board four women, who loaded the vehicle with dried fish, heading to Wukari.

A source said a separate truck carrying dried fish belonging to the women was also intercepted in Damboa, about 100 kilometres west of Maiduguri, which is on the Biu-Numan-Jalingo-Wukari road.

Daily Trust learnt that when they were arrested, the women insisted that they were dried fish traders who regularly transport their commodities from Maiduguri for sale in Wukari, were they reside.

When our correspondent visited the Baga road motor park yesterday, some officials of the National Union of Road Transport Workers who pleaded not to be named confirmed that one Haske was arrested with guns and that he hailed from Wukari and was travelling there.

They also said that the man usually conveyed women trading on dried fish who often charter his vehicle from Maiduguri to Wukari.

“The women came here, loaded fish in a big truck as usual and left by a chartered wagon. That is how they usually do so that they could arrive earlier with some fish and take advantage of market the following morning before their main consignment arrives.

“They left on Thursday and we heard that police intercepted the truck carrying fish around Damboa after the women were arrested. But it’s like the women were released because they had nothing to do with the rifles,” one of the road transport officials said.

Daily Trust could not immediately confirm if the women were actually released or were still being held.

Jos, Plateau State, has been a hotbed of killings between the native Beroms and the so-called Hausa/Fulani settlers since 2004.

In Wukari, six people were killed, while mosques and churches were destroyed earlier this month in religious clashes.

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