The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Victory, on Thursday said it seized 834 bags of foreign parboiled rice worth about N13 million, as well as arrested 19 suspects in Calabar, Cross River State.
Acting Commander, NNS Victory, Captain Ajomabi Oride, who disclosed the seizure to journalists said the suspects of which three are Cameroonians and the rest, Nigerians, were arrested in a vessel around Parrot Island on their way to Oron in Akwa Ibom State from Cameroon.
The seized items and Nigerian suspects were handed over to the Nigerian Customs Service, while the Cameroonians were handed over to the Nigeria Immigration Service.
Oride said, “It is not business as usual for the smugglers. You cannot smuggle foreign rice into the country, knowing that it is banned. We will keep arresting them. We should help the local production increase. They are saboteurs because the Federal Government policy is clear on that, to improve locally made rice so that we can improve on our own economy. If you go out to smuggle rice into the country, you are killing the local industry. The media should help us inform the public that foreign produced rice is out of bounds and not allowed in the country.”
Assistant Controller of Customs, Eastern Marine Command, Joshua Omachi, said the rice would be taken to government warehouse awaiting court directive, while the suspects would be taken to custody and prosecuted.
He said, “We have so many rice milling industries and rice is grown in virtually every part of the country. Our own rice is even sweeter. Information has to get to the nooks and crannies of this nation. Let everybody sit up, so we can arrest these things.”
Superintendent of Immigration, with the Marine Patrol Unit, Odu Nku Nku, who received the Cameroonians said they foreigners would be profiled and dealt with according to the law.