Posted on October 20, 2023

Polygamous U.S. Navy Vet With Top-Secret Clearance Caught Running Guns to Niger

Justin Rohrlich, Daily Beast, October 19, 2023

A polygamous U.S. Navy veteran with a Top Secret security clearance was investigated by federal authorities for allegedly running guns to West Africa, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) search warrant affidavit obtained by The Daily Beast.

Adewale Ozioma Otaru, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Nigeria who served as a Seabee until May 2016, was arrested the following year in Niger—Nigeria’s northern neighbor—while “attempting to smuggle one Sterling Springfield SAR-XV AR-15 rifle with an ACOG Optic as well as a Glock 19 Generation 4 9mm pistol in his luggage,” the affidavit states.

After leaving the military, Otaru established a logistics and procurement company called El-Sahel Global Services International Ltd., which operated primarily on the African continent, according to the affidavit. {snip}

“According to the Regional Security Officer at the American Embassy in Niger, Otaru is currently married to two women and has two children with one of them,” the affidavit states. “One resides at his residence in Ashburn, VA and the second wife resides in Nigeria. Otaru told his wife who resides in Ashburn that he [would] never return [to the U.S.], according to an interview that the RSO conducted with the Consular Officer at the American Embassy, Niger.”


Otaru was never charged with a crime, according to court records.

When he was arrested at the airport in Niamey, Niger on Aug. 2, 2017, Otaru was with late Nigerien diplomat Mahaman Padonou, who at that point had been stationed in the U.S. for less than a month, according to the affidavit. Otaru hadn’t declared the two firearms he had with him, nor had he obtained export licenses, a requirement on the U.S. side.

Upon arrival, Otaru and Padonou headed to the VIP arrivals building, where passengers “generally do not get flagged for inspection,” the affidavit explains. The two men claimed they met for the first time on the flight, according to the affidavit, but Otaru had paid for Padonou’s business class ticket, and the diplomat had listed Oyaru’s home address on his entry papers. Authorities were interested in Otaru at this point not for smuggling guns, but narcotics, and had flagged his name due to “flight patterns and finances matching a targeting profile of a suspected smuggler,” the affidavit states. He had also allegedly claimed on customs forms that he was a U.S. military captain and U.S. ambassador in Niger.


On Sept. 8, 2017, U.S. authorities in Niger interviewed one of Otaru’s two wives, who had traveled to the country three months earlier from Virginia, the affidavit says. The RSO told her that another woman had gone to see Otaru at the jail, and that she also claimed to be married to the man she was calling her husband.

“[Otaru’s U.S. wife] replied that she always suspected that [Otaru] was having an extramarital affair but could not believe that he would potentially marry another individual,” the affidavit states. She said Otaru is a Christian and that polygamy is not acceptable. {snip}