The Nigerian Navy Forward Operations Base (FoB), Ibaka, Akwa Ibom State, has handed over eight suspected smugglers to the Nigerian Customs Service for smuggling 642 bags of rice.
Commander, FoB, Captain Yusuf Idris, while handing over handing the suspects to Assistant Comptroller of Custom, Oron Out Station, Auwal Ali, over the weekend, said the Navy would not relent in its fight against criminality on the waterways.
He said, “In line with the existing cooperation between the Navy and the Customs, we are here to hand over another group of suspects who smuggled items into the country through Cameroun for prosecution.
“There is an improvement. In the last two months it was becoming a weekly affair because whenever we went out, we made arrests. But the Eastern Naval Command has told them to keep clear. And we have seen a reduction in the level of criminality on the waterways. Under the leadership of the Chief of Naval Staff, it is zero tolerance for all maritime offences.”
Ali who represented the Comptroller Eastern Command, Aliya Masay, commended the Navy for the collaboration which he stated was yielding fruits with the continuous arrest of suspected smugglers in the area.
He said, “We wish to thank the Navy for a well-done job. This is the third time we are here and the Navy is giving us what we expect. The Navy is assisting the Customs in fighting smuggling. However, the needful is to prosecute them for the offence. Once again, we are grateful for these efforts.”
One of the suspects, Bruno Owobiakuno (45) said the Navy started shooting as soon as they were sighted close to the tank farm, forcing them to surrender.
He said, “We have reached home and they arrested us at the tank farm. We have to obey them. We don’t have any argument to make with them. We just started the business just to make ends meet and be able to train our children in schools.”
Item recovered from the suspects included 642 bags of rice, two Cotonou boats, four Yamaha outboard engines, water pumping machine and petrol.