The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo local government area, Akwa Ibom State, has arrested five suspects and seized 424 bags of smuggled rice in two different operations.
Speaking on Wednesday in Ibaka during the hand-over of the items to the Nigeria Customs Service, Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Toritseju Vincent, said navy officials on patrol arrested five suspects with 294 bags of rice on August 17, 2019.
Vincent said in the second operation, the suspects escaped on sighting the navy gunboats, and left behind their wooden boat with 130 bags of rice which they seized.
He said the Navy has made various arrests over the months in line with its constitutional role to check smuggling on the water ways, adding that it would not rest on its oars and warned smugglers to desist from the act.
The 5 suspects and 294 bags of rice were handed over to the Deputy Superintendent of Nigeria Customs, K. Alabi, while the 130 bags of rice were handed over to the Assistant Controller, NCS, Ali Garko.
“On Friday, the 24th of August at about midnight, our gun boats on routine patrol at Effiat and Ayewa accosted a wooden boat with 130 bags of illegally smuggled rice from Cameroon. The suspects on sighting the gun boats dived into the water, abandoned the boat and were able to escape, but we were able to retrieve the boat back to the base.
“This is in line with our continuing constitutional role for anti-smuggling of contraband goods. As you are well aware in conjunction with the Navy, over the past months, we have continued to make various arrests of these illegally smuggled goods into the country.
“We will not rest on our oars but will continue to perform this role as we send out this stern warning to these illegal smugglers to desist from this act which is economic sabotage to the nation.
“On behalf of the flag officer commanding the Eastern Naval Command, I hereby hand over these 130 bags of rice and the wooden boat to the Nigeria Customs Service,” he said.
Receiving the suspects and items from the Nigerian Navy, Assistant Controller, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Ali Garko said, “On behalf of the Comptroller, Eastern Marine Command, I hereby take over 130 bags of 50kg rice from the Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka.
“It is a constitutional role given to us, and like we say all the time, we thank the Nigerian Navy for this wonderful effort and we wish they will continue to give us the support needed.”
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