Okon Bassey in Uyo
Five suspects have been arrested by the Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State and 370 bags of smuggled rice seized from them.
Speaking yesterday in Ibaka where they handed over the suspects and bags of 50kg rice to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Commanding Officer of FOB, Captain Toritseju Vincent, said the Navy has made consistent arrests of illegally smuggled rice in its drive to fulfill its anti-smuggling patrol functions
According to him, “Our continuous drive and one of our major functions in the Nigerian Navy is anti-smuggling patrols, and with our cooperation with the NCS, we have consistently made arrests of illegal smuggling of rice from Cameroon into Nigeria.
“So an arrest was made on August 12, 2019, of these five suspects with a large wooden boat conveying 370 bags of rice. I want to use this opportunity to thank the Customs for the continuous and unwavering support to curb this menace.
“On behalf of the Flag Officer Commanding of the Eastern Naval Command, I hereby hand over these 370 bags of smuggled rice to the NCS.”
Receiving the suspects and seized rice from the navy, Chief Superintendent of NCS in Akwa Ibom State, Olutola John, commended the navy for supporting them in the discharge of their duties.
He promised that the Customs would continue to support the navy in the drive to end smuggling on the waterways, and assured them that upon the completion of investigations, the suspects would be charged to court.
According to him, “I, Chief Superintendent of Customs, Olutola John, on behalf of Area Comptroller, Eastern Marine Command in Port Harcourt hereby thank the Nigerian Navy for complementing the effort of Nigeria Customs Service in this command for its legal business activities in this area.
“I also want to seize this medium to note that our full cooperation with the sister security agency will always be available to end the illegal business activities and influx of smuggling into the country.
“I can assure the public as well that as soon as the investigations are completed, the suspects will be charged to court, while the smuggled goods will be forfeited to the federal government.”
One of the suspects, Robin Sunday Robin, from Mbo LGA of the state said he was hired as a water bailer to bring in the smuggled rice from Cameroon
He stated that that was his first time as a water bailer and he was not aware that bringing in rice from Cameroon was against the law.
“I was hired as a water bailer by the owner of the rice, Mr. Chimezie, to go to Cameroon and bring his rice for him. On my way back, I saw a navy gun boat, and I was arrested after I told them I was conveying 370 bags of rice.
“They took me down to the navy base and locked me up. This is my first time of being hired as a water bailer, and I did not know that bringing in rice from Cameroon is unlawful,” he lamented.