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Nigerian security rejects reports that arms were bound for Gaza

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The arms were found in the Lagos port
  • Nigeria says the arms weren't Gaza-bound
  • A company says the containers were loaded in southern Iran

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) -- Security forces in Nigeria believe a recently-seized arms shipment -- reportedly from Iran -- was bound for the western African nation, not another land.

Marilyn Ogar, spokeswoman for the county's security service, on Friday rejected reports that the material was headed to the Palestinian territory of Gaza, as claimed by some reports in Israel.

In fact, some observers speculate, the weaponry was seized ahead of the 2011 controversial elections which would pit Goodluck Jonathan, the current president from the Christian south, and presidential candidates from the Muslim north.

The country's security service said that it had seized 13 shipping containers in the port of Lagos filled with illegal weapons, including rockets, grenades and bullets.

Each shipping container carried 20 wooden crates, and a leading global shipping company has said that the weaponry came from Iran.

Nigerian officials won't confirm that the materiel originated in Iran, and the country's foreign ministry issued a statement knocking down reports that Nigeria was targeting a particular nation in its investigations and that it was planning to go to the United Nations to lodge a complaint.

This comes as the foreign ministers of Nigeria and Iran met on Thursday.

"If at the end of these investigations, there were breaches of international instruments or conventions to which Nigeria is party, the country would, as a responsible member of the international community, 'do whatever was necessary,' " the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The company, CMA CGM, said it was a victim of a false cargo declaration. The shipper -- who the company identified as an Iranian trader -- had listed the materials inside the containers as "packages of glass wool and pallets of stone."

The containers in question were loaded in Bandar Abbas, a port in southern Iran, and discharged in Lagos in July, the company said.

There has been Christian-Muslim sectarian violence in northern Nigeria, and analysts say the upcoming vote will potentially be one of the most controversial and violent election periods in the country's history.

CNN's Christian Purefoy contributed to this report