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Arms Shipment UN Team Arrives Nigeria, Sunday

A United Nations team will arrive Nigeria on Sunday for a weeklong fact-finding mission on the arms shipment from Iran intercepted last October in Lagos, officials said.

A senior Nigerian official told our correspondent in New York that an eight-man UN panel of experts on arrival in Nigeria would get a first-hand look at the arms shipment from Iran which our security authorities intercepted last October.

Some personnel of the Nigerian mission to the UN, conversant with arrangements for the trip, have already left New York for Abuja.

They told correspondents that the fact-finding visit would see the experts meeting with inter-governmental agencies, visit Apapa Port in Lagos, where the cache of arms was intercepted and have been kept “safely” since then.

The panel was appointed in November by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, to monitor states’ implementation of sanctions against Iran.

Members of the panel include retired Nigeria military officer, Maj.-Gen. Ishola Williams, and Ms Salomé Zourabichvili of France, who is the coordinator.

Others are Mr Jonathan Brewer (United Kingdom), Mr Kenichiro Matsubayashi (Japan), Ms Jacqueline W. Shire (United States), Ms Elena G. Vodopolova (Russian Federation), Mr Christof Wegner (Germany) and Mr Wenlei Xu (China).

The panel of experts, which monitors states’ implementation of the sanctions, will report on whether the weapons seized in Nigeria breached the sanction.

Nigeria reported Iran to the UN in November after its authorities intercepted the weapons hidden among building materials in 13 containers on a ship docked in Lagos.

An Iranian man and three Nigerians have been accused of attempting to import the arms and send them to The Gambia, which cut ties with Iran in November.

The Iranian, Azim Aghajani, identified by court documents as a Tehran-based businessman and member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, was granted bail last month by a High Court in Abuja.

The arms shipment has set off a diplomatic row between some countries in the region and Tehran.

Senegal recalled its ambassador to Iran, saying that Tehran had failed to provide a “satisfactory” explanation for the arms shipment seized in Nigeria.

Iranian Foreign Minister Monouchehr Mottaki was sacked last month while on an official trip to Senegal and no reasons were given for his ouster.

Gambia had earlier severed all economic ties with Iran after it was mentioned that the arms’ final destination was the tiny West African country.

Iran has come under four UN Security Council sanctions, including an arms embargo, over its nuclear programme.

-Tide

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Posted by on Jan 16 2011. Filed under Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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