The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area has said that it impounded 251 bags of smuggled rice and seized the boat used in smuggling the rice.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Navy Capt. Suleiman Abdullahi disclosed this to newsmen in Ibaka on Thursday when he handed over the bags of rice to the Nigeria Custom Service.
Abdullahi said the 251 bags of rice were seized from smugglers on June 15, during routine patrol operations by the forward operating base.
He explained that the smugglers abandoned the rice and the boat and fled on sighting the naval patrol team.
He emphasised that the base would not relent in putting an end to illegalities on the Akwa Ibom waterways.
“What you are witnessing here today is the handover of 251 bags of rice suspected to be smuggled into the Nigerian maritime border.
“By the directive of the Flag Officer Eastern Naval Command, Rear Adm. SK Ibrahim, we have zero tolerance for smuggling.
“By the directive, we have carried out intensive patrol and on June 15, 2021, we seized one wooden boat and 251 bags of smuggled rice. On sighting the patrol team, the smugglers abandoned the rice inside the boat and fled to escape arrest.
“This is an indication of their awareness of the crime perpetrated by these suspects for them to have abandoned their boat and fled,” Abdullahi said.
The commanding officer warned smugglers to relocate out of the Nigerian maritime borders, stressing that it would not be business for them as usual.
He urged them to desist from smuggling and other illegal businesses and engage in legitimate endeavours.
“I will like to use this opportunity to warn those maritime criminals that it is not going to be business as usual. That they should desist from their criminal ways and engage in genuine businesses, otherwise the long arm of the law will catch up with them,” he said.
Receiving the 251 bags of rice on behalf of Nigerian Customs Service, the Comptroller of Custom, Sector 1 Port Harcourt, Shehu Abubakar, said the Customs would do everything possible to stop smuggling in the country.
Abubakar, who was represented by the Superintendent of Customs, Border Drill Patrol Team, Oron Axis, Mustapha Ahmed, urged the smugglers to desist from the illegal trade, stressing that the NCS would continue to check all economic sabotage in the country