- I’m a licensed arm dealer – suspect
By OKOSUN DENNIS
The Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan, Lagos on Thursday paraded suspected gunrunners, vigilante group, currency counterfeiters and other criminal gangs in Lagos.
The 74 years old man, Chief Layi Araba, was arrested by the police in his house at Ifako- Gbagada.
He explained that he has been in the business of firearms deal since 1974 having taken over from the late father, who was also a firearm dealer.
He told National Daily that he was officially licensed in 1974 by the police and was paying the yearly armoury charges of N50 until the police authorities reviewed it to N250,000 yearly in 1993.
Chief Araba pointed out that following the review, the Arms Dealers Association disagreed with the new fee regime but told the police authorities that they would pay, only if, the police issue them import licence and they (Police) refused hence they have not been paying accordingly.
Speaking with National Daily, the Zonal Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent Dolapo Badmus said “They are gunrunners and have not been able to convince the police with documents legalising their possession and sale of firearms in Nigeria.
“As such, we are holding them as suspects for gunrunning.
“Also, they have not shown us any document(s) to proof that they are licensed dealers. Two of them are vigilante boys, who were arrested through whom information got to us that they are into sale of firearms.
“Our Zonal Intervention Squad (ZIS), after gotten useful information, moved into it and arrested four of them with these firearms, SP Badmus explained.
The FPPRO reiterated that the suspects were arrested at Abeokuta and Lagos noting that they were still investigating the case and the moment they have established that their activities is indeed illegal, the suspects would be prosecuted.
Explaining to National Daily, Chief Araba reiterated that “My father started this business many years ago but I got licensed by the police since 1974.
“My father has the license to import and sell firearms in Nigeria. I worked with my father for many years and I got my own licence from the police as a firearm dealer too.
“I have presented some of the documents to them (Police) and they are pretending as if it is not from them or was something else.
“The certificate issued to me by the police is here with me. (Showed it). What really happened is that we were paying N50 as armoury fee per year. All of a sudden, around
1993, they increased it to N250,000.
“So, we went to the police to complain that if they don’t give us import licence, we were not going to pay for the armoury. But we still have our licence with us.
“I used to import guns from America, Germany, Spain and Italy and I have all the documents to back it up.
“I was arrested after one vigilante called Kola came to me for a gun. I was processing a licence for him because he said he needs a gun. Eventually, the gun had a fault and I had to give him another one.
“So, while processing the licence, I was arrested. I learnt he gave the gun to someone and the police got him arrested and I was invited to the police station and arrested too.
“I asked the boy if he robbed with the gun, he said no, Chief Araba explained.
When asked since he started using the licence why he has not renewed it, he said it was because of the disagreement the Arms Dealer Association had with the police that stopped all of them from paying the armoury charge of N250,000.
To buttress his claim, he showed the letter the Association wrote to the former IGP Mike Okiro for a meeting while he was the Lagos State Commissioner of Police.
He also showed another letter dated 2010 he wrote to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to supply them arms.
National Daily learnt that the last time he imported arms into the country was in 1993 from Italy and Spain.
On completion of investigation, our reporter gathered, the suspects would be charged to court for illegal possession and sale of firearms.