A 19-year-old suspect, Shapraku Umade, yesterday told policemen at the Lagos State Command that gun manufacturing was a preoccupation of his community in Benue State. According to Umade, in his village, what the people know to do best, apart from farming, is gun manufacturing. However, he said the guns were being manufactured to protect the people from the Fulani herdsmen who always attack them.

The suspect said in his village, Adipo in the Vandeikiya Local Government Area of Benue State, the people’s major occupation was gun manufacturing business. He said the guns fabricated by the villagers “can compete with those manufactured by foreign companies”. Udame said they had been warned by their elders in their village not to sell guns to outsiders. According to him, they are only using the guns to fight the Fulani herdsmen who are invading their village. He said: “The person I sold the two pistols to lied to me when he came to our village. He told me he wanted to use the guns to protect himself in Lagos from armed robbers.

That was why I sold the guns to him. I didn’t know he was selling them to cultists and armed robbers.” Umade and his alleged accomplices, Moses Anzuur (19) and James Tsebee (20), were arrested in a hotel at Lekki area of Lagos after police received intelligence about the suspects. Umade told the police that he acquired the skills of fabricating guns from his late father. He said: “I was in my workshop in Benue, when a man who claimed to have come from Lagos persuaded me to sell a pistol to him. He paid for one and also bought two others on credit. He asked me to come to Lagos with more guns and to also come to collect the money he was owing me. “After he left for Lagos, I fabricated two other pistols and came with them to Lagos, to hand them over to him. We were asked to lodge in a hotel to wait for him. When he did not show up after four days, I decided to return to my village because my wife is pregnant. But the person later came to collect the guns from me. But how the police knew I was in the hotel still baffles me.

“I never knew the person that bought the guns from me was a cultist. It was after we were arrested that the police said I am selling guns to armed robbers and cultists.” On his part, Tsebee said it was Umade who told him to accompany him to Lagos because he wanted to come and collect money from someone owing him. He said when they got to Lagos, it was Umade who called someone on the phone and the person directed them to a hotel at Lekki. According to him, they were in the hotel waiting when police- men came to arrest them. He said: “I didn’t know he was carrying two pistols in his bag. It was after we were arrested that the guns were brought out.

That was how we were arrested and brought to the command. I regret coming to Lagos with him.” The state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, paraded the suspects at the command Headquarters, Ikeja. The commissioner said on August 3, about 3p.m., they received information from a credible source that some arm merchants, who were based in the Adipo area of Benue State, were bringing arms and ammunition to Ajah, to sell to some armed robbers and cultists in the area He said: “Immediately the command received the information, the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) rushed to the area and the exercise paid off. Three of the suspects were arrested in a hotel, with a shuttle bag containing two locally-made Barrette pistols.

“Umade said he learnt the skills of gun fabrication from his late father and he sells each pistol for N30,000 to his collaborators. He was said to have been in the business for two years.” Odumosu, however, said the suspects would be charged to court as soon as the investigation was conclude