UN investigates Nigerian weapons shipment from Iran

Nigerian soldiers and officials showing some of the arms seized at Apapa seaport in Lagos, 27 October 2010
Image caption The arms cache of 13 shipping containers included rockets, rocket launchers, grenades and ammunition

UN weapons experts are in Nigeria to inspect an Iranian arms shipment seized in the port of Lagos last October.

The weapons, including rocket launchers and grenades, were found in containers labelled as building materials.

Nigeria reported the seizure to the UN Security Council for an apparent breach of the sanctions against Iran.

Nigeria has charged an alleged member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and three Nigerian citizens over the illegally imported weapons.

Iran is under UN sanctions because of its nuclear programme and is banned from supplying, selling or transferring arms.

Correspondents say mystery surrounds the intended destination of the weapons.

Nigerian authorities have said that the shipment originated in Iran and was destined for the capital, Abuja, after its arrival in Lagos.

But the shipment was intercepted when an attempt was made to re-export it to The Gambia.

The Gambia's neighbour Senegal recalled its ambassador to Tehran over the incident, amid speculation the weapons may have been destined for separatist rebels in its Casamance region.

Nigeria's Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia said he had met the six-member UN team and it was due to inspect the weapons from the 13 shipping containers on Tuesday.

Tehran has said the cargo was being shipped by a private company to a "West African country" and was the subject of a "misunderstanding" that has now been cleared up.

The trial of Azim Aghajani, identified by Nigerian court documents as a Tehran-based businessman and member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, is due to start at the end of the month.

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