Nizami was unwilling to probe the haul
Former industries minister Motiur Rahman Nizami was reluctant about investigation into the ten truckloads of arms haul although the seizure was made at a jetty under his ministry.
Nizami also reportedly told the then BCIC chairman that the industries ministry did not need to do anything individually saying the home ministry was looking into the matter.
Maj Gen (retd) Mohammad Imamuzzaman, former chairman of Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC), said this before a Chittagong court yesterday.
Imamuzzaman was giving his statement as a prosecution witness in both the arms and smuggling cases filed in connection with the arms haul.
Judge of Chittagong Metropolitan Special Tribunal-1 SM Mojibur Rahman recorded the statement and adjourned the proceedings till March 14 after the defence cross-examined Imamuzzaman.
In his statement, Imamuzzaman said he was at home on April 2, 2004 and at around 10:00am a journalist from Chittagong enquired about the incident over phone.
"I immediately called the then managing director of Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Ltd [CUFL] Mohsin Talukder and wanted to know why I was not informed about it earlier." a court source quoted Imamuzzaman as saying.
"He [the CUFL MD] said he thought of telling me after learning it in details. As the DGFI, NSI and police were quizzing the CUFL officials, they were not allowed to go outside. I asked Mohsin to submit a report about the matter within 24 hours," Imamuzzaman stated.
"After opening of the office on Sunday, I met the then industries secretary Dr Shoyeb Ahmed and came to know that additional industries secretary Nurul Amin was staying at the rest house of CUFL on the night of the incident.
"Shoyeb Ahmed didn't instruct me anything and told me that he had informed the matter to the industries minister, who said the ministry had nothing to do about it. The industries secretary rather urged me to talk to the minister directly," Imamuzzaman continued.
"As soon as I went there and raised the matter, the minister told me that he knew everything. Nizami told me that since the law-enforcement agencies seized the arms, the home ministry is taking necessary steps. So, the industries ministry doesn't need to do anything about it," he stated.
"I thought that he [Nizami] was avoiding the matter. I asked him to form a probe committee. But he didn't answer to me and was totally silent. He was seen in an off-mood and anxious," Imamuzzaman recalled.
"The report that came from CUFL was prepared carelessly and there was not a single word about the seizure of truckloads of arms and ammunition. It only mentioned that illegal goods were seized. The then general manager (admin) Enamul Hoque signed the report. But according to rules, the MD would have to sign it," he told the court.
"Later I prepared the report in details and sent it to the ministry. But we got no response from the ministry and that is why we could not take any step regarding the matter," he added.