The Nigerian Navy in Calabar, Cross River State has arrested 12 smugglers and impounded one boat allegedly used for illegal trading activities within the Nigerian territorial waters. The large boat was conveying ten cartons of substances suspected to be hard drugs, about three thousand bales of textile materials, one hundred bags of rice and twenty bags of shoes imported from neighbouring Cameroon into Calabar.
The arrested suspected smugglers included seven Cameroonians and five Nigerians. At the handing over of the contrabands to the Customs and the suspects to the Nigerian Immigration Service, in Calabar, Commodore Fredrick Ogu, the commanding officer, NNS Victory, said his men accosted the smugglers on the high sea while on routine patrol as they were navigating their way into Calabar in the night.
According to Ogu, “the Chief of Naval Staff has instructed us to bring illegal activities such as bunkering, pipeline vandalisation and piracy in the maritime zone under control. Smuggling is an economic sabotage so my men had to arrest the boat and the smugglers.
“We decided to hand over the contrabands to the men of Customs and the smugglers to the Nigerian Immigration Service since they are the agencies directly charged with the responsibility of handling such cases. We are always on the high sea and when we come across such criminals, we arrest them and hand them to the agencies charged with prosecuting them.”
He said his unit was out to combat criminal activities in Nigerian territorial waters, stating that smugglers and pipeline vandals would no longer have a field day on the Calabar-Oron-Cameroon waterways any longer.
Samuel Oguche, the Comptroller of Immigration Service in Calabar while speaking on the development, said “there is a synergy among the different agencies of the government and since we are working towards the same goal, we can achieve better results towards combating illegal movement into the country.”
According to him, his office would screen the smugglers to know if any foreigner entered the country illegally, adding that foreigners who foul Nigerian law will be prosecuted.