Okon Bassey in Uyo
A total of 265 bags of smuggled rice recently seized by the Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State and impounded boats used in the smuggling activities were yesterday handed over to the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS).
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Navy Capt. Mohammed Abu, told journalists that the 265 bags of rice were seized from smugglers between November 26 and 29 during routine patrol operations by NNS Thunder commanded by Navy Capt. Christian Akokota.
He explained that the smugglers of the rice and the boats had earlier been handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for further investigation and prosecution.
The commanding officer said the seizure was premise on the directives of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Auwul Gambo, of zero tolerance to all forms of criminalities on Nigeria maritime domain, particularly, smuggling of rice and crude oil theft.
“Recalled between November 26 and 29, NNS Thunder commanded by Navy Capt. Christian Akokota, siezed cumulatively seven wooden boats carrying petroleum products and other exhibits, inclusive are 265 bags of parboiled rice which had been siezed and kept in the base
“Today, we are handing over the siezed rice to the Nigerian Customs Service as part of Operation Tripartite that was initiated by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
“FOB Ibaka is a component of the Joint Border Patrol, I just want to state that other exhibits had been handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
“The joint border patrol which was initiated purposely because of smuggling of rice and that is why we are here to do the handing over of the 265 bags of rice to the Nigerian Customs Service, seized from the boats that were impounded by NNS Thunder.
“On this note, we humbly hand over the rice to Chief Superintendent of Customs, Rasaq Busari and the details are in the handing over note and we expect that on the completion, you will revert back to the Nigeria Navy on the outcome of the seizure,” Abu said.
Receiving the 265 bags of rice on behalf of Nigerian Custom Service, the Comptroller of Custom, Sector 1 Port Harcourt, Shehu Abubakar, said the custom would do everything possible to stop smuggling in the country.
Abubakar, who was represented by the Chief Superintendent of Custom, Joint Border Patrol Team 1 Port Harcourt Razaq Busari, urged the smugglers to desist from the illegal trade, stressing that the NCS would continue to check all economic sabotage in the country.
“On behalf of the Joint Border Patrol Team 1 PortHarcourt, I Chief Superintendent of Customs, Rasaq Busari, hereby takeover 265 bags of 50kg parboiled rice from FOB Ibaka on behalf of the Coordinator Joint Border Patrol, Comptroller Shehu Abubakar,” he said.