The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom has arrested five suspected smugglers and seized 370 bags of 50kg rice during routine operations.
Navy Cpt. Toritseju Vincent disclosed this on Thursday in Ibaka during the handover of the suspects and the rice to the Nigeria Customs Service.
Vincent said that the Navy has made consistent arrests of suspected smugglers in its drive to fulfill its anti smuggling patrol functions.
“One of our major functions in the Nigerian Navy is anti smuggling patrols, and with the cooperation with the Nigeria Customs Service, we have consistently made arrests of suspects smuggling rice from Cameroon into Nigeria.
“An arrest was made on Monday, Aug. 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 their continuous and unwavering support to curb this menace,’’ he said.
Receiving the suspects and the seized rice from the Navy, Mr Olutola John a Chief Superintendent Customs, commended the Navy for supporting the NCS in the discharge of their duties.
John, who represented the Customs Area Controller, Eastern Marine Command, Port Harcourt promised that the service would continue to support the Navy in the drive to end smuggling on the water ways.
He also assured that upon the completion of investigations, the suspects will be charged to court.
One of the suspects, 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 claimed that it 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 to go to Cameroon and bring the rice for him.
“On my way back, I saw a navy gun boat and I was arrested after I told them I was carrying 370 bags of rice.
“They took me down to the navy base and locked me.
“This is my first time of being hired as a water bailer and I did not know that bringing in rice from Cameroon is wrong,” he said.
Edited by Rotimi Ijikanmi