Police have arrested a 58-year-old herbalist, Mustapha Sumaila, for allegedly keeping guns for a gang of sea pirates in Lagos.
The pirates were said to have specialised in hijacking oil vessels coming from Canada and European countries.
Police also recovered three AK47 rifles with live ammunition reportedly used by the gang from Sumaila’s house at Gbaji town, Badagry. The herbalist said he did not know the sack given to him by his nephew, Seth Akpot, contained guns until he was apprehended.
Sumaila said he specialised in treating pregnant woman and the sick. He said: “I am a herbalist. I attend to pregnant women and treat sick people.
This was the first time I would keep the guns for my brother. I didn’t know initially that the sack contained guns.” The herbalist was arrested by men of Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team in Lagos while acting on a tip-off.
They also arrested Akpot, a 40-year-old fisherman, who claimed he gave the guns to Sumaila. According to the police, the suspects specialised in hijacking oil vessels on the seas, but also attacked boat passengers and dispossessed the travellers of their valuables. A source told our correspondent that the suspects were being sponsored by a rich man based in Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
The source added that the police were intensifying efforts to arrest him and other members of the gang. “The gang members were using the guns to hijack oil vessels from Canada and European countries.
They got the guns from a sponsor. The police received intelligence report on their activities on the waterways and swung into action.
“Akpot was arrested on July 20 at Ajido town, Badagry, very close to the sea. He led detectives to arrest the herbalist who kept the guns for them,” the source said.
Akpot, however, denied the robbery allegation, saying that a Cotonou-based man, Alphanus, gave the guns to him for safe keeping.
The father of four children, who is a fisherman, said: “I met Alpahnus last year through a customer called Baba Ibeji. He usually sends his boys from Cotonou to collect fish for him and he would pay me later. “Sometime in June this year, he called me on the telephone that he had a deal that would earn me big money. We met at the border and he gave the guns to me in a sack for safekeeping.
“He told me he was into illegal oil bunkering and promised to give me money. He was not specific about the amount. I took the guns to my uncle who is a herbalist and asked him to help them. It was about three weeks later the police arrested me.”