July 16, 2024

Navy seizes 31 bags of smuggled rice as suspects flee to evade arrest


Akpan Umoh, Uyo

The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area, has impounded 31 bags of smuggled rice and warned smugglers against economic sabotage.

The Commanding Officer, FOB, Navy Capt. Suleiman Abdullahi, disclosed this to newsmen when he handed over the bags of rice to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Ibaka Mbo Local Government Area, on Tuesday. 

Abdullahi said the 31 bags of rice were seized from smugglers on Aug. 9, along Mbo river during routine patrol operations by the Forward Operating Base.

He said the suspects on sighting the Base gunboat patrol team abandoned the smuggled rice and fled the scene to evade arrest.

The commander noted that on Aug.5, the Base operation patrol team had arrested one suspected smuggler and impounded 61 bags of rice.

He warned smugglers that the base would not relent in putting an end to illegal smuggling along the Akwa Ibom waterways.

He commended the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Auwal Gambo, for the support given to the FOB patrol team.

“The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Auwal Gambo (CNS), has given a clear directive to Nigerian Navy to free the waterways of illegalities and other maritime crimes.

“In compliance to that, the Flag Officer Eastern Naval Command, Rear Adm. Sanusi Ibrahim, has further directed all Operation Bases within his Area of Responsibility, to keep up with the Chief of the Naval Staff directive.

“And in compliance with the directive, FOB Ibaka, while on routine patrol on Aug. 9, around 17.55hours, along Mbo rivers, our gunboats impounded 31 bags of parboiled rice suspected to have been smuggled into Nigeria from the Republic of Cameroon, while the suspects fled.

“And same as you have witnessed, is being handed over to the Joint Border Patrol, Operation Tripartite Sector 1.

He appealed to smugglers to stay out of the business, as the base would not relent in its continuous patrol to sustain the directive of the CNS and rid criminal elements out of Nigeria waterways.

“I would like to use this opportunity to warn those maritime criminals that it is not going to be business as usual.

“That they should desist from their criminal ways and engage in genuine businesses, otherwise the long arm of the law will continue to catch up with them,” he said.

Our Correspondent reports that the Comptroller of Customs, Sector 1, Port Harcourt, Shehu Abubakar, received the 31 bags of rice, on behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service.

Abubakar, represented by the Superintendent of Customs, Border Drill Patrol Team, Oron Axis, Mustapha Ahmed, said that the NCS would do everything possible to stop smuggling in the country.

He urged the smugglers to desist from the illegal trade, stressing that the Customs would not relent in ensuring that all economic sabotage in the country were arrested.

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