THE Nigerian Navy on Monday handed over a 15-man Russian crew to the Nigeria Police to be prosecuted for weapons smuggling.
The PUNCH had reported the arrest of the vessel on October 20, 2012, at the Lagos Roadstead of the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s waterways by personnel of the Nigerian Navy Shi, Andoni, for illegal entry into the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s waterways.
The Navy also arrested the crew for non-declaration of cargo and possession of cache of arms and ammunition.
About 8,598 ammunition, 14 AK47 rifles and 20 Benelli MRI rifles were recovered from the Russian ship, Merchant Vessel Myre Sea Diver, Avatiu, after the ship was searched.
On Monday however, the Navy handed over the Russians and the recovered arms to the Nigeria Police.
The crew was formally handed over to the men of the Special Fraud Unit, Force Criminal Investigation Department at the Western Naval Command, Apapa, Lagos.
Commanding Officer, NNS Beecroft, Commodore Martin Njoku, said the handing over of the suspects was necessary because the Navy did not have the power to prosecute them, adding that the service had faith in the ability of the police to carry out thorough investigation.
Njoku said the Navy was releasing only the crew members to the police and not the vessel and ammunition.
While receiving the crew members, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, SFU, Bashiru Muazu, said the police would complete the investigations and prosecute the crew if found culpable.
He said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“For the navy to have handed over the suspects to the police, it means the suspects have a case to answer and we will ensure that a thorough investigation is carried out.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We will also ensure speedy and quality investigation as well as prosecution of the suspects if need be. But for now, we will detain the Russians until we complete our investigation.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So far, we have no clue as to the owner of the arms and ammunition or where the suspects were carrying them to; but that is what we intend to find out.Ã¢â‚¬Â