The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has apprehended two suspects, seized 70 bags of smuggled rice and impounded two boats used in smuggling the rice.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Navy Capt Muhammed Kabiru, told newsmen in Ibaka on Friday while handing over the suspects and bags of rice to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Kabiru, who was represented by the Base Operations Officer, Lt. -Cdr. Samuel Olowookere, said the two suspects were arrested while the 70 bags of rice were seized from smugglers on Thursday, April 7, during routine patrol operations by the forward operating base.
He explained that the smugglers were arrested along Effiat waterways in Mbo during the routine patrol of men and officers at the base.
Kabiru said that the base would not relent in putting an end to all criminalities on the Akwa Ibom waterways.
The commanding officer said that the seizure was premised on the directives of the Chief of Naval Staff Vice Adm. Auwul Gambo, of zero tolerance for all forms of criminalities in Nigeria’s maritime domain, particularly smuggling of rice and crude oil theft.
“On behalf of the Commanding Officer of FOB, Ibaka, Navy Capt. MM. Kabiru, we shall hand over two suspects, 70 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice suspected to be smuggled into Nigeria from the Republic of Cameroon to Superintendent of Customs, Mr Kikems Danbana,” he said.
The commanding officer warned smugglers to steer clear of the Nigerian maritime borders, stressing that officers and men of FOB Ibaka would not relent until the Akwa Ibom waterways is free from all forms of criminalities.
He urged them to desist from smuggling and other illegal businesses and engage in legitimate endeavours to avoid being arrested.
“The message from the Nigerian Navy is very clear, there will be zero tolerance of all forms of illegalities on the waterways of Nigeria.
“So far, as we continue to have these people who vehemently defunct this instruction, we will continue to arrest them, which is in compliance with the strategic directives of the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) as well as the objectives of the Eastern Naval Command.
“I will like to use this opportunity to warn those maritime criminals that they should desist from their criminal ways and engage in genuine business, otherwise the long arm of the law will catch up on them, he said.
Receiving the suspects and 70 bags of rice on behalf of the Nigerian Customs Service, Mr Kikems Danbana, Officer in Charge of Oron Axis, Joint Border Patrol Team, said the custom would do everything possible to stop smuggling in the country.
He said the rice would be transferred to the Government warehouse in Calabar, the only approved warehouse for Akwa Ibom and Cross River for custody and further action.
He said the suspects would be handed over to their legal department for further interrogation and prosecution.
Danbana urged the smugglers to desist from the illegal trade, stressing that the NCS would not tolerate any economic sabotage in the country.