Smuggling: Navy seizes rice, others worth N45m

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TRACKING >>The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Victory in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, has seized various contraband items.

They include foreign rice, palm oil, fairly used tyres, bales of second-hand clothes and premium motor spirit (petrol) from two large wooden boats.

It also arrested 14 suspects for the alleged crime.

The Commander of NNS Victory, Commodore Vincent Okeke, who addressed reporters at their jetty in Calabar, said the boats were seized in separate arrests.

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He put the total value of the items at N45 million.

Handing over the rice, tyres, palm oil, clothes and the seven suspects from the first boat to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at the jetty, the naval officer said a third boat carrying an unknown number of bags of rice was also seized.

Okeke said the second boat with petrol and seven suspects would be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as soon as investigations are completed.

He said: “On Friday, June 7, acting on intelligence of the presence of a wooden boat suspected to be laden with various quantities of smuggled contraband items at Black Gate jetty, by Old NPA Marina on Calabar Channel, NNS Victory quickly deployed a patrol team which intercepted and arrested the suspected wooden boat.

“Similarly, on June 9, a gunboat on patrol intercepted a wooden boat laden with drums of substance suspected to be PMS. The confiscated product was intercepted offshore Ibaka while transiting from Ibaka to Cameroon. The boat was discovered to be laden with 105 drums of PMS and manned by seven crewmembers, all Nigerians. Also, on Monday, June 11, the base arrested another boat carrying yet an unknown number of rice bags being smuggled in from Cameroon.”

Okeke, who gave a breakdown of items seized from the first boat, said it had 449 bags of foreign rice, 115 drums of palm oil, 139 bales of clothing and a large quantity of tyres.

The commander said smuggling activities were rife in border towns and cities in neighbouring countries with weak customs regulations and border security arrangements.

He said smugglers take advantage of the situation for personal gains while countries like Nigeria run into economic problems due to their activities.

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