Rivers Crisis: SSS intercepts high-calibre ammunition in Port Harcourt

State Security Service (SSS) operatives intercepted yesterday high-calibre ammunition in a 20-foot container at the Port Harcourt Port in Rivers State.

The interception of the ammunition raises fears of impending violence in the state ahead of the 2015 elections.

Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi raised the alarm on the return of militants to the state after a rally by the Save Rivers Movement (SRM) —a group loyal to him— was smashed in Bori, Khana Local Government Area, three weeks ago.

The vessel carrying the lethal cargo, MV Iron Trader, came from Panama in Central America.

The captain is under arrest. Also being held are the agent and six crew members. They were undergoing interrogation at the SSS office in the oil city last night.

The container was being guarded yesterday by a combined team of SSS operatives, soldiers and policemen.

It was gathered through a security source that the intercepted ammunition was packed in many iron boxes in the container.

The source said: “The interrogation of the eight arrested persons is ongoing to determine the consignee and the destination of the seized items.”

Senior officials of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Port Harcourt declined to comment on the “sensitive” issue yesterday.

The SSS’s interception of the ammunition is coming at a time militants have been let loose in the state, shooting, killing and maiming, with the police, led by Commissioner Mbu Joseph Mbu, seeming helpless.

The Supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, who is the grand patron of the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI) – the organisation pushing his governorship ambition – also declared at its rally in Degema-Kalabari, the headquarters of Degema Local Government Area — on January 19 that Amaechi would not know peace, until he resigns.

Amaechi, who is the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), however, declared that he would remain focused and complete his tenure in 2015 “by God’s grace” and that his successor would be decided by the Rivers people.

The NGF chairman also expressed surprise that the militants he used the military to chase away in 2007, when he assumed office, were returning to the state. He said those he described as the “Abuja forces” are behind insecurity in the state.