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Navy nabs 12 suspected rice smugglers in A’Ibom

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The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Mbo local government area, Akwa Ibom State, has arrested 12 suspected rice smugglers.
At least 742 bags of contraband rice were recovered from the suspects in four different operations carried out by naval operatives in the area.
The first set of arrests include five suspects and 339 bags of 50kg rice, the second set also has five suspects and 301 bags of 50kg rice, while the third and fourth arrests include one suspect each, 41 and 43 bags of 50kg rice respectively.
Other items seized from the suspects between May 1st to 3rd, 2019 include two wooden boats, two fiber boats, four outboard engines, and four pumping machines.
Speaking on Sunday in Ibaka during the hand-over of the suspects, and items to the Nigeria Customs Service, Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Toritseju Vincent, promised that the Navy will remain committed to its assigned roles in checking illegalities on the waterways.
“On behalf of the flag officer Eastern Naval Command, I am handing over these five suspects who were apprehended on Wednesday, the 1st of May in the early hours of the morning with 339 bags of rice, one big wooden boat, two outboard engines, and two pumping machines.
“Likewise, five suspects were arrested on 3rd May at about 0700 hours around the Akpan platform axis and they had 301 bags of rice in their wooden boat, as well as two outboard engines and two pumping machines.
“We are handing over the suspects, the contraband goods and the boats to the Nigeria Customs, alongside the two suspects, 84 bags of contraband goods and two fiber boats.
“I will like to thank you for your support in the past few weeks; it has been a continuing operation. We will continue to do our best out there in the waters and believe we will always have your unconditional support in carrying out our constitutional roles as assigned to both services.
Receiving the suspects and items on behalf of the Controller, Eastern Marine Command, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Port Harcourt, Elton, Assistant Controller, Ali Garko thanked the Nigerian Navy for their efforts in arresting illegalities on the waterways, and appealed to the smugglers to deist from the act as it was detrimental to the nation’s economy.
“I thank the Nigerian Navy for this wonderful effort. We will like to reiterate to those people who are in this business to desist because it is ruining our economy. The earlier they hearken to this, the better for all of us,” he stated.
Two of the suspects, Mr. Edet Okon and his 17-year-old nephew, Raphael Edem said they were only passengers on the boat when it was arrested and are not part of the smugglers. He said he came back to Nigeria to visit his sick sister.
“I don’t know what is happening here. I boarded a boat in Cameroon to come and visit my sick sister, and then I saw myself here. I don’t know the boat was carrying rice because I was in a rush to come down to Nigeria. I have been in Cameroon for three years” he said.
Raphael stated, “I have been living in Cameroon with my Uncle for three years now. When my Uncle told me my mum was sick, I boarded the boat to come to Nigeria but I did not know the boat was carrying rice, and I don’t know any of the people in the boat with me except my Uncle, who I came with”.
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