The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, FOB, Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom, has arrested 20 suspects and seized 1, 425 bags of smuggled rice within one week.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Navy Capt. Peter Yilme disclosed this to newsmen in Ibaka on Tuesday.
Mr Yilme, who was represented by the Base Operations Officer, Lt.-Cdr. Kabiru Yusuf, said that the arrests were made in four different operations between Nov. 12 and Nov. 18.
The Navy Capt. said that its gunboats during patrols on Effiat waterways seized the boats carrying 50kg bags of rice brought in from the Republic of Cameroon.
Mr Yilme, while handing over the suspects and items to the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, said the Nigerian Navy has zero tolerance for criminality.
“Four wooden boats carrying a combined 1,425 bags of 50kg parboiled rice suspected to be smuggled into the country and 20 suspects were impounded and arrested by the Forward Operating Base, Ibaka.
“The handover of the 20 suspects and 1,425 bags of rice on Tuesday 19 November, 2019 goes to show the resolve of the Base not to relent on its oars. The arrests were made between November 12 and 18, 2019.
“I commend the untiring efforts of the officers and ratings in ensuring the mandate and tasks of the Base are achieved.
“I also appreciate the immense effort of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok E. Ibas for providing the necessary platform and logistic support for the Base to carry out its operations,” he said.
The officer warned smugglers to desist from the act, especially within Foward Operating Base, Ibaka area of operation.
He said the FOB, in the last one month has handed over 3,800 bags of smuggled rice, 60 drums of illegally refined Automated Gas Oil (AGO), and 60 suspects to the Customs component of Operation Swift Response for necessary action.
Receiving the suspects and items, Deputy Superintendent of NCS, Alabi Adedokun commended the Navy for the cooperation existing between the agency.
“On behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Alabi Adedokun take over the 20 suspects and 1,425 bags of rice. On behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service, we thank you very much,” he said.