Iran permits Nigeria to question its citizen in weapons case

Iran has authorised Nigerian security officials to interrogate one of its citizens accused of bringing in rocket launchers, grenades and other explosives through ship into the oil-rich African country.

Abuja: Iran has authorised Nigerian
security officials to interrogate one of its citizens accused
of bringing in rocket launchers, grenades and other explosives
through ship into the oil-rich African country.

Nigeria`s Minister of Foreign Affairs Odein Ajumogobia
today told reporters here that he got the consent of the
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who arrived here
to question an Iranian citizen involved in the case.

"We may not be able to question the diplomat because
that would contravene international law and I wish to add that
contrary to what the security services have been saying the
weapons were meant to be transshipped to the Gambia," he said.

Security agencies intercepted 13 containers conveying
the ammunition in the country`s main port in Apapa, Lagos two
weeks ago.

The Nigerian minister gave the name of the Iranian who
is now taking refuge within the country`s embassy in Abuja as
Azimi Agajani with visa dated July 14, 2010 whereas the
diplomat was simply identifies as Saed.

Ajumogobia said Nigeria would take necessary actions
if it found out that the shipment goes against international
law.

When the cargo was discovered, Israeli authorities
believed the consignors were trying to discover a new route to
transport arms to Gaza and was avoiding an old route where a
blockade is in place.

But Nigeria`s State Security Service (SSS) spokeswoman
Marylin Ogar told reporters in Abuja on Wednesday that the
ship was destined for the African country because the Bill of
Lading on the hidden cargo suggested that it conveyed Building
materials comprising Glasswood and Pallets of stones with
destination as Nigeria.

The weapons which were described as similar to those
used against United States forces in Afghanistan were conveyed
to the port by MV CMA-CGM Everest registered in Marshall
Islands and owned by a shipping company in France.

There were earlier suggestions that the ship passed
through India on its way to Lagos but the shipping company,
CMA-CGM, said that an Iranian trader had loaded the ship at
Bandar Abbas, a southern port city in Iran and made false
declarations.

The discovery of weapons became a sensitive issue
because Nigeria`s capital Abuja witnessed bombings that
claimed 14 lives during celebration of its 50th independence
anniversary last month.

Nigeria which has witnessed militant uprisings and
kidnapping of oil workers in the oil rich delta region is also
preparing for an election next year.

PTI