Operatives of the Nigerian Navy, have arrested seven suspected smugglers and seized 470 bags of contraband rice in the Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State,
The suspects were arrested in two different operations.
It was gathered that the operatives of the navy were on routine patrol along the Nigerian waterways when five of the suspects and their wooden boat were intercepted with 308 bags of 50kg rice, while the two other suspects were intercepted and found with 162 bags of 50kg rice, said to be brought in from the Republic of Cameroon.
Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Toritseju Vincent, while handing over the suspects to the Nigeria Customs Service in Ibaka, on Tuesday, said that navy was committed in its fight against illegal activities on the country’s waterways.
“On behalf of the Commanding Officer of Eastern Naval Command, I hand over these five suspects, who were arrested on April 22, 2019 with 308 bags of smuggled rice, which were smuggled into the country from Cameroon, to you.
“I also hand over a medium-sized wooden boat laden with 162 bags of rice impounded near Mbo River by Oron, Calabar channel to the Nigeria Customs Service. The wooden boat and its two crews were apprehended around 7.30am on Sunday, April 21, 2019, during a routine patrol by the navy gunboats,” he said.
Deputy Superintendent of the Nigeria Customs Service, Kabir Ogah, who spoke on behalf of the Zonal Commander and the Assistant Comptroller, thanked the navy for the support and collaboration while receiving the suspects and the items.
He said, “On behalf of the Zonal Commander, Assistant Comptroller and the Nigeria Customs Service in general, we wish to commend all your efforts in combating smuggling in our waterways.
“Your actions have demonstrated your commitment to the nation and the security of our waterways.”
Emmanuel Bassey, one of the suspects, said he was compelled to go into the business to survive the hard time.
Bassey said he felled timbers in Cameroon for two years but had to return home because he was harassed by hoodlums while plying his trade in Cameroon.
He said, “I went to Cameroon to bring rice back to Nigeria but on my way back, I was arrested by the navy. I used to fell timber before now; 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.”