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Nigeria: We Didn’t Import Arms and Ammunition – Shell

Nigeria: We Didn’t Import Arms and Ammunition – Shell

Chika Amanze-Nwachuku
Lagos

Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), has debunked allegation that it is importing arms and ammunition into the country, and also denied any involvement in the proliferation of arms and ammunition in the Niger Delta region.

Mr Femi Falana, counsel to Henry Okah, leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), who is currently facing treason charges before a Jos Federal High Court, had written the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mike Okiro, alleging that the Nigerian Army and SPDC are involved in the proliferation of arms and ammunition in the Niger Delta.

In the said letter, Falana said the MEND leader was alleged to have committed treason by providing 250,000 assault rifles, General Purpose Machine Guns, Rocket Propelled Launchers/Canisters, Bazookas and assorted ammunition to armed groups in the Niger Delta, to wage war against the Federal Republic of Nigeria

He said, “in the course of preparing our client’s defence, we traced the proliferation of arms and ammunition in the Niger Delta to the Nigerian Army and the Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Limited.”

The Lagos Lawyer said he was prompted to apply to the IG for a Certified True Copy of the Approval, dated July 20, 1994, given to SPDC to import arms to enable the accused adequately defend himself.

But in a swift reaction yesterday, a Shell Spokesman , Mr Precious Okolobo, said at no time did SPDC apply to the IG for permit to import arms and ammunition into Niger Delta or Nigeria at large.

He explained that sometime in 1994, SPDC investigated the possibility of funding the upgrade of the side arms used by the Supernumerary (SPY) Police assigned to guard the company’s personnel and Joint Venture facilities, following upsurge in violent crimes in Nigeria at that time. He said the company decided to shelve the idea, based on issues of price and supply, coupled with its concern that upgrading weapons at a period of extreme sensitivity might be misconstrued.

“SPDC wishes to state that it does not and has never imported arms and ammunition into Nigeria as being alleged. At no time did SPDC apply to the IG for permit to import arms and ammunition into Niger Delta. To set the record straight, sometime in 1994, SPDC investigated the possibility of funding the upgrade of the side arms used by the supernumerary (SPY) police assigned to the company to guard its personnel and Joint Venture facilities at a time when there was an upsurge in violent crime in Nigeria.

“SPDC eventually decided not to proceed with the idea and has not done so since. The decision was based on issues of price and supply, and because of the company’s concern that upgrading weapons in a period of extreme sensitivity might be misconstrued. The matter is subject of an on-going suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos, and we cannot make further comments on it,” Okolobo said.

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