Operatives of the Zonal Intervention Squad (ZIS), Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan, Lagos State, have arrested a 75-year-old man, Chief Olayiwola Araba, for allegedly supplying guns to vigilante men without a licence.
Araba was alleged to have supplied guns to Olarewaju Kabir (45), Oladele Jacob (35) and Jide Akinola (40). The men introduced themselves as local vigilantes. According to the police, nine rifles, two pistols and ammunition were recovered from the suspects.
The Zone 2 Police Public relations Officer (ZPPRO), Dolapo Badmos, said that Araba was arrested for selling guns without a licence. She said: “We’re holding the seller and the buyers for illegal possession of firearms.
The seller has no document to show that he has the approval of the police authorities to sell guns to the public. We’re conducting a discreet investigation into his business, to identify routes through which guns come into the country. Arrest of three other suspects, who are vigilante members, led to the arrest of Araba.
He was arrested at his Gbagada residence in Lagos.” Araba, however, denied being in possession of the firearms. He said that he got a licence from the police to import guns into the country. “My father was into importation of guns before he died. When he died, I took over the business.
I got my licence in 1974. It was when I was working with my late father, that I showed interest in the business. I don’t import the guns illegally, I got approval from police. When I was arrested, I showed the documents given to me by the police, but those that came to arrest me, didn’t listen to me.”
Araba said that police were persecuting him because he and members of his association, who were into arms’ importation, refused to give them money. He said: “Police asked us to pay money, but the amount was outrageous.
We told them to reduce it or we wouldn’t pay. Even without paying, we still bring in guns from overseas into the country because our licence has not expired. I have been selling guns to vigilantes for years.
When the suspects were arrested by the police for unlawful possession of firearms, they told the police I sold it to them. That was how police came after me; they arrested me for selling guns. I have been dealing with reputable individuals and companies.
I don’t sell guns to criminals. The vigilante men arrested did not use the guns for armed robbery. If policemen here doubt my story, they should go the State Command for verification of my claims.” The leader of the vigilantes, Mr. Olarewaju Kabir, also denied using the gun for criminal activities.