Iran silent on Nigeria arms cache

2010-11-01 17:01

Abuja - Iran's embassy in Nigeria refused to comment in detail on Monday on an arms shipment discovered in the West African nation, believed to be sent from an Iranian port, saying it did not want to add to the "confusion".

In its first reaction since the discovery of the illegal weapons - which included rockets and grenades disguised as building materials - the embassy said it would not say anything until Nigeria's government concludes its investigations.

"Any unnecessary word will add to the confusion already existing," the embassy said in a statement. "It is better to wait until the government reaches a conclusion."

It added that the government had not informed it of any arrests of Iranian citizens in Nigeria.

Security agents last week intercepted 13 containers discharged from the vessel CMA CGM Everest at the country's busiest port of Apapa in Nigeria's economic hub, Lagos.

Shipping firm CMA CGM said the containers had been loaded and sealed in Iran by an Iranian businessman who does not appear on an international list of prohibited traders.

CMA CGM, based in France, said the containers were loaded in Bandar Abbas, a southern port city of Iran, and discharged in Lagos in July.

But some time last month the shipper sought to have the containers reloaded and sent to Gambia, a tiny west African country wedged inside Senegal, according to the company.

Illegal weapons are widespread in Nigeria and the latest discovery has sparked fresh concerns, (especially since) presidential elections are set to be held early next year. The find also comes after twin car bombings on October 1 in the capital, Abuja, which killed at least 12 people.

Ballots have frequently been tainted by violence in the oil-rich nation.