#TrackNigeria: The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom, says it has nabbed seven suspects and seized 470 bags of contraband rice in two separate arrests.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Navy Cpt. Toritseju Vincent, who disclosed this while handing over the suspects and seized items to the Nigeria Customs, said the Navy was committed to ridding the Nigeria waterways of illegal activities.
Vincent said that five of the suspects and their wooden boat were intercepted by officials of the navy on routine patrol with 308 bags of 50kg rice, while two other suspects were intercepted with 162 bags of 50kg rice.
The rice was suspected to be smuggled in from the Republic of Cameroun.
“On behalf of the Commanding Officer of Eastern Naval Command, I hand over these five suspects, who were arrested on April 22, with 308 bags of rice suspected to have been smuggled in from Cameroun.
“I also hand over a medium sized wooden boat laden with 162 bags of rice arrested near Mbo River, by Oron-Calabar channel to the Nigeria Customs Service.
“The wooden boat and the two crew members, were intercepted at 0730 on Sunday, April 21, 2019 during a routine patrol by the Navy gunboats,” Vincent said.
Receiving the suspects and bags of rice from the Navy, the Zonal Commander, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Asst. Comptroller, Kolade Iloyode, commended the Navy for protecting the nation’s territorial waters.
Iloyode, who was represented by Kabir Ogah, Deputy Superintendent of Customs, said that the agency would continue to collaborate with the navy to check smuggling in the country.
“On behalf of the Zonal Commander, Assistant Comptroller, Kolade Iloyode, and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) we wish to commend all your efforts in combating smuggling on our water ways.
“Your actions have demonstrated your commitment to the Nigerian nation and the security of our water ways.
“This will encourage us on the land to do more. We thank you so much and we also urge you to continue with the good work,’’ Iloyode said.
One of the suspects Emmanuel Bassey from Udung Uko Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom, said he regretted his involvement in smuggling the contraband rice; adding that he was compelled into the business just to survive.
Bassey said he sawed wood in Cameroun for two years, but had to return home because he was often harassed by hoodlums in that country.
“I went to Cameroun to bring rice back to Nigeria, but on my way back, I was arrested by the Navy. This is my first time in this trade.
“I was promised N5,000, but now I regret my involvement in smuggling and promise not to do it again,” he said. (NAN)