A revealing publication in June 24, 2019, by Premium Time NG had detailed how the immediate past governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun confessed to the state’s Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, that he had in his possession thousands of arms and millions of ammunition in store at a secret armoury in Government House, and that he had decided to hand them over to the police.
In the report, the newspaper stated that the former governor made the confession a few hours to the end of his reign as Ogun State helmsman.
Senator Amosun, currently representing Ogun Central in the National Assembly, was said to have hurriedly handed over 1,000 AK-47 rifles, four million bullets, 1,000 bulletproof vests and an armoured personnel carrier to the state’s police commissioner on May 28 – a day to the end of his eight-year tenure as governor of the state.
The story which exposed the former governor’s urgency in handing over a massive cache of arms and ammunition to the police sparked a nationwide outrage from Nigerians who were shocked by the potential danger and impropriety of a governor stockpiling arms on such a large scale.
Amosun, however, in reaction to the revelation claimed the handover was “a routine exercise” that was conducted in the open and that he got necessary approvals to import the weapons.
Amosun, a former Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, stalwart in the state said “We got all necessary approvals from the Office of the National Security Adviser to procure the 13 units of Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), the 1000 units of AK 47 rifles, two million rounds of ammunition,1,000 units of bullet proof vests and 500 bulletproof helmets and other security communication gadgets.
“Ogun State not only got approval to import these essential assets, the federal administration under President Goodluck Jonathan gave all requisite approvals to assist the state.
“The Federal Government through the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) issued the state the End User Certificate Serial Number 000001123 dated 5th of March, 2012.
“The Federal Ministry of Finance also granted Import Duty Exemption Certificate through a letter from the Honourable Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy with Reference Number BO/R.10260/S.4/T.4/22 dated 10th April, 2012. Indeed the supplier was an accredited agent of the Nigeria Police Force nominated for the job by the Force who also monitored and supervised the transaction.
“The security materials were cleared through the Murtala Muhammed Airport and confirmed through Nigeria Customs Memo NCS/MMAC/012/S.1.”
But ‘a lie has been exposed’ in fresh reports by Premium Times revealing documents that the former governor had actually imported arms and ammunition without the approval of relevant authorities.
Developing details showed that the end-user certificate and import waiver cited by Amosun contained approval for importation of 13 armoured personnel carriers only.
Further digs by the newspaper disputed Amosun’s claim and highlighted the extent to which the politician was willing to go to deceive the public and federal authorities on the matter.
Amosun, 61, had written to President Goodluck Jonathan seeking to be exempted from paying import duty on 13 armoured vehicles he wanted to donate to the police in Ogun State. The request was made via a February 24, 2012 letter with Ogun State reference number: COS/GOV/11/VOL.II/236.
In the letter titled ‘Request for Duty Waiver on Imported 13 Nos. APC/SWAT Vehicles’, Mr Amosun thanked Mr Jonathan for backing measures taken to tackle insecurity in Ogun State, a support he said would be further bolstered by the approval of his request to import armoured vehicles for the police.
Mr Jonathan subsequently directed expedited treatment of Mr Amosun’s request by the Federal Ministry of Finance. An analysis prepared by Bright Okogu, the then director-general of budget, found that the import waiver would deprive Nigeria of N209 million in potential import duty on the 13 armoured vehicles.
Mr Okogu said the declared value of the 13 vehicles was $6.7 million (a little over N1 billion at the then exchange rate of N155 to a dollar) and calculated import duty of 20 per cent.
Nonetheless, Mr Okogu recommended that the waiver be granted as a way of encouraging Mr Amosun’s security efforts in Ogun State, documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES showed. On March 22, 2012, the president endorsed the request for waiver.
On April 10, 2012, a final import duty exemption certificate was issued to Ogun State Government for the importation of 13 armoured vehicles as requested by Mr Amosun for police use. The certificate carried reference number BO/R.10260/S.4/T.4/22, exactly what Mr Amosun quoted in his June 25 statement to the media.
Meanwhile, as Mr Amosun was seeking duty waiver for the 13 armoured vehicles, he got an approval from the Office of the National Security Adviser to bring them into the country.
On March 5, 2012, an end-user certificate was issued to Alpine Armoring, an American specialised armoured vehicle manufacturer, for 13 armoured vehicles on behalf of Ogun State Government and for use by the police command in Ogun State.
The certificate carried the same serial number Mr Amosun said was issued to him: 000001123. But, contrary to his claim, the certificate was for 13 armoured vehicles only and no mention of 1,000 AK-47 rifles, millions of bullets, hundreds of bulletproof vests and other security hardware he listed.
Furthermore, in 2015, the Nigeria Customs Service confirmed in a memo that Mr Amosun imported 12 armoured vehicles between 2012 and 2013 based on the 2012 import waiver. He had written to the government seeking an extension of the waiver for him to be able to import the last one, which he said was not delivered with the rest due to logistic challenges.
Mr Amosun took delivery of the first set of five vehicles as part of the order on April 19, 2012, Daily Trust reported. He confirmed in his June 25 statement that the last unit was what he handed over to the police in Abeokuta on May 28.