UN team on Iran probes arms seized in Nigeria

By benim
In News
Jan 18th, 2011

A United Nations panel of experts on sanctions on Iran on Tuesday probed an illegal shipment of weapons seized in Nigeria last October sent from an Iranian port, the Nigerian foreign minister said.

The team was in Nigeria to “meet with relevant government officials as part of a neutral fact-finding mission following up on the report that we filed with the sanctions committee in November last year,” Odein Ajumogobia told AFP.

“Today they will be inspecting the seized weapons in Lagos as part of a verification process,” said the minister.

Nigeria in November reported Iran to the UN Security Council for a possible violation of sanctions after a shipment of 13 containers of arms originating from that country was discovered at a Lagos port.

Ajumogobia has met the six-member panel along with intelligence service chiefs, the national security advisor, and immigration and customs representatives “to clarify several issues that arose from the report we filed.”

Iran is under four sets of UN sanctions over its nuclear programme. The sanctions include a ban on arms sales.

Tehran has said the cache, which included rockets and grenades, was being shipped to a West African country by a private company.

The UN team is led by Salome Zourabichvili, a former foreign minister of Georgia and also includes a Nigerian member, retired General Ishola Williams.

A Nigerian high court last month charged an Iranian identified as a member of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, the military and economic force in that country, over the illegal arms cache.

Azim Aghajani, who was also identified in court papers as a businessman, was granted a 130,000-dollar (97,000-euro) bail and ordered to return to court on January 31. He was charged along with three Nigerians after the seizure.

After the arms arrived in Lagos, the shipper sought to have the containers reloaded and sent to Gambia, a tiny West African country wedged inside Senegal. AFP

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