By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
THE Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Mbo local government area, Akwa Ibom State, has arrested 12 suspects, seized 50 drums of illegal diesel (AGO) as well as 486 bags of smuggled rice from them.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Capt. Peter Yilme who spoke yesterday in Ibaka said Navy was determined to end smuggling on the waterways and warned the smugglers to desist from the illegal activity.
Yilme who was represented by Lieutenant Commander Kareem Yusuf, Base Operations Officer, FOB, during the hand-over of the items to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) said the arrests were made in three different operations involving 5 suspects each with 209 and 277 bags of 50kg rice respectively, and two suspects with 50 drums of illegal AGO.
“On behalf of the flag officer commanding the Eastern Naval Command, I hand over 486 bags of smuggled rice and 10 suspects to the Nigeria Customs Service. I also hand over two suspects and 50 drums of AGO to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps,” he stated.
Receiving the 10 suspects and 486 bags of rice from the Nigerian Navy, Deputy Superintendent of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Alabi, Adedokun commended the Navy for the cooperation existing between them.
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James Essien, Divisional Officer, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), in charge of Mbo local government area who received the 50 drums of AGO and two suspects from the Navy commended them for their efforts in combating smuggling.
He said, “On behalf of the State Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Akwa Ibom State Command, Commandant Adeyinka Fasiu, I hereby take over the two suspects and 50 drums of 300 litres of AGO from the Nigerian Navy.
“We commend the Navy for collaborating with us and making sure that the illegality in the waterways is checkmated. We will do all the necessary things to make sure that the culprits are brought to book,” he said.
One of the suspects, Bright Okon, a fisherman who had lived in Bakassi for about 20 years but from Udung Uko local government area, Akwa Ibom, said he was only a passenger on the boat when it was arrested by the Nigerian Navy.
He stated that he was not involved in the smuggling but was on his way to Oron to visit his wife and newborn baby.
Another suspect, Ini Asuquo, the driver of one of the boats said he was paid N20,000 by the owner of the rice, one Mr Samuel to bring the rice from Cameroon to Nigeria.
He said it was the first time he was carrying rice to Nigeria, adding that he was not aware that smuggling the contraband rice was wrong.
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