A 55-year-old man has been arrested by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA for concealing 250 cartridges in cartons as food items.
The yet-to-be named foodstuff trader is based in Jalingo, Taraba State capital and travels regularly to Onitsha to buy food items which he sells at a market in Jalingo, Daily Trust gathered.
The suspect, a father of five, said he was arrested on his way to Taraba when he was intercepted in the course of his trip in Alaide in Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State with the cartridges hidden in several cartons.
In his confession, the suspect who claimed to be diabetic said he was sorry for his act.
Expressing regret for his action, the suspect said, “I’m so embarrassed. My wife and children are not happy with me.
“I was returning from Onitsha in Anambra where I went to buy foodstuff which I sold in Taraba.
“When our vehicle approached Alaide, the NDLEA officers stopped us and arrested me with cartons of cartridges which some vigilante groups asked me to buy for them.
“It is the first time I ventured into the arms business which I procured from Onitsha market at the rate of N45, 000 after buying food stuff for my main business,” the suspect added.
Confirming the arrest, the NDLEA Commander in Benue state, Florence Ezeonye, said the suspect would be handed over to the appropriate security agency.
Ezeonye explained that her eagle-eyed officials on stop-and-search duty at the Alaide area nabbed the foodstuff dealer after they suspected the contents of the cartons arranged under the seat of the bus.
“My officers noticed that the suspect was pushing the cartons which he hid under the vehicle seats with his feet as they were searching luggage and when they insisted on knowing what was concealed in the cartons, he alighted and started engaging them in Hausa language.
“The suspect had a mixed parentage – an Igbo father and a Jukun mother – so he could speak Hausa and Igbo languages fluently, an advantage which he used to ward-off security suspicions at check points.
“The suspect further tried to convince them that he only supplies soup ingredients to customers in Taraba but it turned out that he was carrying arms.
“My men found out 250 pieces of cartridges concealed in the 15 cartons belonging to the suspect,” the commander added, noting that the suspect would be charged to court on completion of investigations.