Troops of the Nigerian Army intercepted a Toyota Corolla loaded with 44 single-barrelled rifles and 351 cartridges during a stop and search operation in Rijau, Niger State.
Our correspondent learnt that the troops attached to the 1 Division, Kaduna State, subsequently arrested three suspected gunrunners inside the car identified as: Aminu Umar, 32; Shehu Samaila, 25; and Bilyaminu Abdullahi, 22.
The suspects were arrested on Tuesday inside the car with number plate ZUR 28 DX, Kebbi State.
The suspects told the troops during preliminary interrogation that they were heading for Bena area in the Wasagu Local Government Area of Kebbi State, which shares boundary with Zamfara State.
Our correspondent gathered that the troops had in November arrested one Rabi’u Akilu, who was found in possession of 36 rifles and 343 rounds of ammunition hidden in a Toyota Corolla and heading for Zamfara State.
Military sources told our correspondent that the rifles were not unconnected with the banditry and kidnapping going on the region, as it was believed that the suspects were selling guns to bandits and other criminals in the North-West.
The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations and the 1 Division’s spokesman, Colonel Muhammad Dole, who confirmed the arrests, said further interrogation was ongoing.
Dole advised motorists to continue to share credible information with the army and other security agencies.
He said, “Troops of the 1 Division deployed for the ‘Operation Whirl Punch’ arrested three notorious gunrunners during a stop and search operation at Rijau in Niger State. We recovered 44 fabricated locally-made single-barrelled rifles and 351 cartridges being conveyed in a Toyota Corolla.
“Preliminary probe revealed that the gunrunners were heading to Bena in the Danko/Wasagu Local Government Area of Kebbi State. Further interrogation is ongoing, while motorists are requested to continue to share credible information with the Nigerian Army and other security agencies.
“It is important to add that troops of the 1 Division conducting the ‘Operation Whirl Punch’ will remain resolutely committed to combating all forms of criminality in our area of operation.”