Nigeria seizes weapons cargo
21 / 06 / 2009
A UKRAINIAN company’s cargo aircraft has been impounded by Nigerian authorities for carrying weapons.
The Meridian An-12 landed for refuelling at Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) on its way to Equatorial Guinea from Croatia. Suspicious of its incomplete cargo manifest, security searched it and found crates of various arms and ammunition, including rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, mortars and howitzers.
Security then arrested the seven-strong crew, along with a Nigerian who was with them who had been hired to ‘facilitate’ refuelling and early departure of the aircraft. He is then alleged to have tried to bribe the security personnel with a large amount of cash.
Meridian has subsequently claimed that the landing had been authorised and that they had all the correct paperwork.
“There were all [the] permits for this flight, including from the Nigerian authorities. There were no violations regarding either the plane or the cargo, or the documents,” Meridian director general, Mykola Minyaylo, said.
“The plane was flying from Zagreb to Equatorial Guinea and landed in Nigeria to refuel.”
The Ukrainian government’s main arms export agency, UkrSpetsEksport, has said that the consignment of weaponry had nothing to do with the Ukraine but belonged to Croatia.
Ukrainian diplomats have now met with Nigerian authorities and are investigating the release of the crew.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vasyl Kyrylych said: “Ukraine’s charge d’affaires in Nigeria will raise the question of receiving and providing official information regarding the causes and circumstances of the plane’s arrest. He will also raise the question of providing the permission to meet with the crew members who currently remain in Kano.”