Officers of the Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, in the Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, said they have arrested 10 suspected smugglers with 956 bags of rice.
The suspects were arrested in three different operations carried out by naval patrol gunboats on February 15, 23 and 25, 2020.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Peter Yilme, said during the first operation, 165 bags of rice were seized from suspects; 707 bags were seized in the second operation; while 84 bags were recovered during the third operation.
According to him, three wooden boats used in conveying the rice were also seized.
The commanding officer, who was represented by the Base Operation Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kabiru Yusuf, warned smugglers to desist from the illegal trade as the Nigerian Navy would not relent in its efforts until smuggling and it sponsors were crippled.
He said, “On behalf of the Commanding Officer, Capital Peter Yilme, I, Lieutenant Commander Kabiru Yusuf, hand over 10 suspects and 956 bags of 50kg rice to the Superintendent of the Nigeria Customs Service, Dauda Abubakar.
“Navy patrol gunboats on February 15, 2020, arrested 165 bags of rice and four suspects, and on February 23, 707 bags of rice and three suspects were arrested, while on February 25, 84 bags of rice and three suspects were also arrested.
“The 165 bags of rice and suspects were apprehended on the Ikang waterway; the 707 bags and suspects were arrested at Agbani Offshore; while the 84 bags of rice and suspects were arrested on the Unyenye creek.”
Receiving the suspects and the bags of rice, Abubakar expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Navy for its cooperation in the fight against illegal trade, adding that with sustained efforts from the navy and the NCS, the fight against illegal trade would be won.