The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government area in Akwa Ibom State, has seized 230 bags of smuggled rice concealed in a market women’s boat.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Navy Capt. Muhammed Kabiru, said this in Ibaka on Wednesday while handing over the bags of smuggled rice to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Kabiru, who was represented by the Base’s Operations Officer, Lt.-Cdr. Samuel Olowookere, added that the 230 bags of rice were seized from smugglers on Sunday, April 10, 2022, during a routine patrol.
According to him, the smugglers were arrested along Effiat waterways in Mbo LGA of the state during the routine patrol of men and officers of the forward operating base.
He noted that the smugglers on sighting the naval patrol team jumped into the creek and abandoned the boat with the consignment to evade arrest.
The commanding officer stated that the seizure was premised on the directives of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Auwul Gambo, of zero tolerance for all forms of criminalities in Nigeria’s maritime domain.
He said: “On behalf of the Commanding Officer of FOB, Ibaka, Navy Capt. MM. Kabiru, we shall be handing over 230 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice suspected to be smuggled into Nigeria from the Republic of Cameroon to Superintendent of Customs, Mr Kikems Danbana.”
The commanding officer warned smugglers to stay clear of the Nigerian maritime borders, stressing that the personnel of the FOB, Ibaka would not relent until the Akwa Ibom waterways were free from all forms of criminalities.
He urged them to desist from smuggling and other illegal businesses but engage in legitimate endeavours to avoid being arrested.
“This arrest was made on Sunday, April 10, 2022, around 03:29hours by the personnel of the Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, who are constantly at the waterways to ensure that the waterways are safe from all forms of maritime illegalities.
“It is important to also state that the patrol is conducted in compliance with the strategic directives of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Auwul Gambo, which is in consonance with directives of Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command.
“So, as much as these criminals will not stop operating in the waterways, we will also not stop to make sure that we catch up on them and handover them over to the necessary prosecuting agencies,” he said.
Receiving the suspects and 230 bags of rice on behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mr Kikems Danbana, Officer in Charge of Oron Axis, Joint Border Patrol Team commended the Navy for their vigilance, assuring that the Customs would do everything possible to stop smuggling in the country.
He said the rice would be transferred to Government Warehouse in Calabar; the only approved warehouse for Akwa Ibom and Cross River states for custody.