The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, has apprehended two suspects, impounded 70 bags of smuggled rice and seized the two boats used in smuggling the rice.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Navy Capt. Muhammed Kabiru, made this known in Ibaka on Friday while handing over the suspects and bags of rice to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Kabiru, represented by the Base Operations Officer, Lt.-Cdr. Samuel Olawookere said that the suspects and 70 bags of rice were seized on April 7, during routine patrol operations by the FOB personnel.
He said that the suspects were arrested along Effiat waterways in Mbo Local Government Area of the state during the routine patrol of men and officers of the base.
Kabiru said that the base would not relent in putting an end to all criminalities on the Akwa Ibom waterways.
“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.
He warned smugglers to stay clear of the Nigerian maritime borders, adding that officers and men of FOB Ibaka would not relent until the Akwa Ibom waterways is free from all forms of criminalities.
He urged smugglers 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 to 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 NCS, Mr Kikems Danbana, Officer in Charge of Oron Axis, Joint Border Patrol Team, said they 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.