The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom said it has impounded 265 bags of smuggled rice as well as boats used in perpetuating the crime.
Mohammed Abu, the Commanding Officer, FOB while handing over the exhibits to the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) on Tuesday said the suspects had earlier been handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for further investigation and prosecution.
He said the smugglers were actually arrested between Nov. 26 and 29 during routine patrol operations by NNS Thunder which was commanded by Navy Capt. Christian Akokota.
He noted that the seizure was based on the directives of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Auwul Gambo, on zero tolerance to all forms of criminalities on Nigeria maritime domain, particularly, smuggling of rice and crude oil theft.
According to the statement, “between November 26 and 29, NNS Thunder commanded by Navy Capt. Christian Akokota, seized cumulatively seven wooden boats carrying petroleum products and other exhibits, inclusive are 265 bags of parboiled rice which had been seized and kept in the base
“Today, we are handing over the seized rice to the Nigerian Customs Service as part of Operation Tripartite that was initiated by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
“FOB Ibaka is a component of the Joint Border Patrol, I just want to state that other exhibits had been handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps” (NSCDC).
The commanding officer also requested the NCS to revert to the Navy at the completion of investigations.
Receiving the 265 bags of rice on behalf of the Nigerian Customs Service, the Comptroller of Custom, Sector 1 Port Harcourt, Shehu Abubakar, pledged the determination of custom to stop smuggling in the country.
Abubakar, who was represented by the Chief Superintendent of Custom, Joint Border Patrol Team 1 Port Harcourt Razaq Busari, warned the smugglers to desist from the illegal trade, as the NCS would not relent in tackling all economic sabotage in the country.