Mudiaga Affe, Calabar
The Nigerian Navy Ship Victory in Calabar, Cross River State have paraded eight suspects for allegedly smuggling from Cameroon 3, 434 bags of contraband rice, worth over N61m.
The Commander, NNS Victory, Commodore Julius Nwagu, said while handing over the suspects and the seized goods to the Nigeria Customs Service that the navy would go after the brains behind rice smuggling to nip the problem in the bud.
He said the smugglers were arrested with the rice in a wooden boat on June 24, 2018.
“We are going to change our modus operandi now. We would start digging into those who are actually bringing the rice and those who are collecting the rice and those who own these boats.
“We are going to start massive investigations into the main actors in this smuggling of rice into the country, especially from Cameroon into the Calabar area. We are going beyond these boys who ride the boats. I warn the main culprits behind these smugglings that we are compiling their reports and we would come for them,” he said.
He lamented that smuggling contraband rice to the country was not in the best interest of the Federal Government’s effort of encouraging local farmers.
“A local farmer cannot have it better than the Nigerian Navy seizing over 3400 bags of rice that would come to compete with their rice produced locally. The Federal Government is encouraging the local farmer to produce rice and somebody somewhere believes that these farmers should not be encouraged.
“This is the only way our people can benefit. So, we are happy seizing this rice for the sake of the farmers in Nigeria. The common man is in the farm toiling to get food on the table, then somebody somewhere comes in to smuggle large quantities of rice to thwart their efforts.
“We are resolved to continue to sabotage the efforts of these smugglers because what they are doing is tantamount to bringing the nation to its knees. Food security starts from home and we cannot but help our own people to improve their life,” he said.
Receiving the suspects, an Assistant Controller of Customs in charge of the Eastern Marine Command base in Calabar, Mr Omachi Joshua, said the items would be taken to the government warehouse and the suspects would be prosecuted.
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