TRACKING >>The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Mbo local government area, Akwa Ibom State, has arrested six suspects and seized 416 bags of contraband rice from them in two different operations in Akwa Ibom State.
The wooden boat carrying the first set of 223 bags of 50kg rice was intercepted in the early hours of 28th April by officials of the Navy, but no arrest was made as the driver of the boat escaped.
The second boat carrying 193 bags of 50kg rice was intercepted and six suspects arrested. Other items seized include two pumping machines and two outboard engines.
Speaking yesterday in Ibaka during the hand-over of the suspects, and items to the Nigeria Customs Service, Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Toritseju Vincent, said smuggling of rice is inimical to the growth of Nigeria’s rice industry.
He said the Navy would continue to do its best to nip rice smuggling in the bud and bring it to a stop, to promote government’s drive towards the production of local rice.
“On behalf of the Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Naval Command, I hereby hand over 223 bags of Habiba rice seized in the early hours of 28th April 2019. It was unaccompanied because the suspects abandoned the boat and the products, the pumping machine and an outboard engine.
“In the same morning of 28th April, we also intercepted another boat with six suspects.
I am officially handing over the suspects, the boat, pumping machine and outboard engine to you, the Nigeria Customs along with 193 bags of Marori Benze rice, which we believe was brought in from Cameroon.
“We thank you for your cooperation, diligence and interaction in assisting us with these anti-smuggling operations. We would continue to do our best to promote the federal government’s drive in promoting our own local production of these goods.”
Zonal commander, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Assistant Comptroller, Kolade Iloyode, received the suspects and bags of rice from the Navy, and promised that the suspects will be handed over for prosecution to serve as deterrent to others.
Iloyode who was represented by Kabir Ogah, Deputy Superintendent of Customs, Comptroller General of Customs Strike Force (CGC), Zone C, Akwa Ibom State, commended the Navy for the support in combating smuggling, adding that the activity of smugglers is detrimental to government’s policy of rice sufficiency.