The Nigerian Navy has intercepted a ship smuggling contraband rice into from Cameroon as Nigeria resolves to shut its border with a neighbor over rice smuggling.
The vessel carrying 2,860 bags of foreign rice was intercepted over the weekend by Naval personnel on board the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) victory along the Calabar waterway in Cross River State.
The Acting Commander of the NNS victory ship, Captain Babafemi Ajayi, paraded the five suspects alongside their seized boat in Calabar.
Mr Ajayi said that the arrests were made following an intelligence report.
“We discovered that the boat was hidden around Calabar channels with this consignments with the intention that when there is darkness, they will use smaller boats to evacuate the products into a warehouse.
“Following the tip-off, we positioned our men into that area.
“Fortunately, we saw the five men when they wanted to carry out the assignment on the boat.
“They were subsequently arrested. Further entry revealed their warehouse. When we got there, we saw more consignments, those that have already been offloaded.”
Mr Ajaji noted that in compliance with the extant rules, the bags of rice and the suspects will be handed over to the Nigeria Customs Service for further investigation and prosecution.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has resolved to shut its land border with and a neighbouring country in a few days’ time to avoid smuggling of foreign rice into the country.
Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the border would be closed in a few days’ time.
He made the disclosure in Abuja on Monday while speaking with youths in a leadership clinic under the auspices of Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI).
Mr Ogbeh, who did not mention the particular country and border, said that shutting the borders had become necessary to encourage local production and sustain the economy of the country.
The minister said that a neighbouring country was bent on destroying the economy of Nigeria and discouraging local production of rice, hence the need to shut down the border.
“Our other problem is smuggling. As we speak, a neighbour of ours is importing more rice than China is importing. They do not eat parboiled rice, they eat white rice, they use their ports to try and damage our economy.
“I am telling you now because in a few days, you will hear the border has been shut, we are going to shut it to protect you, us and protect our economy. You will start seeing all sorts of negative things on the internet.
“Let me tell you why we need to shut the border, I grow rice, I was the first Nigerian to mill rice free of stones, if you plant rice in certain parcels of land, some poisonous materials gets into the rice.’’