THE Commanding Officer-in-charge of forwarding Operating Base (FOB) of the Nigerian Navy in Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Captain Peter Yilme, has disclosed that rice smugglers have devised a way to smuggle the product into the country through the waterways linking the Republic of Cameroon and Gulf of Guinea
Captain Yilme said so far, 54 suspects have been arrested for rice smuggling, while 3,378 bags of rice were recovered from the suspects in October.
He said the smuggled 3,378 bags were rice worth about N57.4 million and they were seized alongside 14 wooden boats used in conveying the product into the country.
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Speaking on Thursday in Ibaka, Captain Yilme explained that 389 and 261 bags of 50 kilogrammes of rice, as well as eight suspects and two wooden boats, were brought in from the Republic of Cameroon, saying that they were arrested between October 27 and 29 around Parrot Island, along the Calabar Channel and Effiat waterways during routine patrol by naval gunboats.
While handing over the suspects and items to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Yilme, who was represented by the Base Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kabiru Yusuf, said the command would remain steadfast in fighting illegalities on the waterways.
He assured that the FOB Ibaka would not relent in going after persons who continue to engage in rice smuggling despite the Federal Government’s directives against the importation of the product.
Receiving the suspects, the smuggled rice and two wooden boats from the Nigerian Navy, a Deputy Superintendent of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Alabi Adedokun, commended the Navy for the co-operation existing between the two agencies, saying such synergy led to their successes in the operations.