Okon Bassey in Uyo
Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base in Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State yesterday said a total of 54 suspects had been arrested, while 3,378 bags of smuggled rice seized from the suspects in the month of October 2019.
The command said the smuggled rice which is worth about N57,426,000 were seized alongside 14 wooden boats within a four-week period of operations.
Speaking Thursday in Ibaka, the FOB Commanding Officer, Captain Peter Yilme, said 650 bags of 50kg rice, as well as eight suspects and two wooden boats were brought in from the Republic of Cameroon.
He added that the latest arrest of eight crew and wooden boats took place between October 27 and 29 during a routine patrol by the naval boats.
According to him, the suspects were arrested around Parrot Island along Calabar Channel and Effiat waterways during a patrol by naval gunboats.
Handing over the suspects and the items to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Yilme, who was represented by the Base Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kabiru Yusuf, said the command would remain steadfast in fighting illegalities on the waterways.
He maintained that FOB Ibaka would not relent in going after persons who continue to engage in rice smuggling despite the federal government’s directives against the importation of foreign rice. “The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka hereby hands over two medium sized wooden boats laden with 389 and 261 bags of rice arrested at Parrot Island to the Nigeria Customs Service,” he stated.
Receiving the eight suspects, 650 bags of rice and two wooden boats from the Nigerian Navy, NSC Deputy Superintendent, Alabi Adedokun, lauded the Navy for its synergy with the Customs and commended the naval authorities for the frequent arrests.
“On behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service, I, Alabi Adedokun, take over the eight defendants and 650 bags of foreign parboiled rice. And on behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service, we thank you very much,” he said.