Reuters: Nigeria summoned Iran’s ambassador on Thursday over an arms shipment it seized last month and the Iranian foreign minister is expected to take part in the discussions, a Nigerian official and foreign diplomats said.
ABUJA Nov 11 (Reuters) – Nigeria summoned Iran’s ambassador on Thursday over an arms shipment it seized last month and the Iranian foreign minister is expected to take part in the discussions, a Nigerian official and foreign diplomats said.
Nigeria’s secret service intercepted 13 containers in the main port of Lagos two weeks ago which were found to contain rocket launchers, grenades and other explosives and ammunition.
French-based shipping group CMA CGM later said the containers, which were labelled as building materials, had been loaded in Iran by a local trader.
“The Iranian ambassador has been summoned…and he is holding a meeting with the (Nigerian) foreign affairs minister,” said an official at the Foreign Ministry, who refused to be named.
“Part of the agenda of the meeting is the issue of the shipment of explosives and the visit of the foreign affairs minister of Iran,” the official told Reuters.
Diplomats in New York said Iran would appear to be in breach of the United Nations sanctions regime, which forbids it from exporting any kind of weapons directly or indirectly, if the seized weapons were originally loaded on its territory.
But they said it was difficult to assess the case because Nigeria had not yet notified the U.N. Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee about the seizure.
An official at the Iranian embassy in Abuja confirmed that Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was in Nigeria but declined to comment further.
A diplomat with access to intelligence on Iran told Reuters in New York Mottaki had gone to Abuja to discuss the seized arms and to secure permission from the Nigerians to bring two Iranians linked to the shipment back to Tehran.
The diplomat, who spoke on condition that neither his name nor nationality be identified, said the two Iranians were at the Iranian embassy in Abuja and that Tehran appeared reluctant to have them questioned by Nigerian authorities. (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: af.reuters.com/ ) (Reporting by Felix Onuah, Nick Tattersall in Lagos and Lou Charbonneau in New York; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Diana Abdallah)