Etim Ekpimah, Uyo
The Forward Operating Base of the Nigerian Navy in Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has arrested five suspected smugglers for transporting 81 bags of rice from Cameroon to Nigeria.
The command also impounded two fibre boats with two outboard engines, nine empty 200 litre drums and two empty 100 litre drums, among others.
The suspected smugglers included the 44-year-old youth president of Udung Isemin in Ibaka, Emem Ukut, and Kingsley Ekpe (31) from Ibaka, David Etim (32) from Ebughu, Joseph Edet (34) from Udung Uko, and Etim Okpo (32) from Oron.
The suspects were reportedly intercepted while transporting the contraband into and within the Nigerian territorial water.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Capt. Yusuf Idris, said in Ibaka on Friday that in as much as the smugglers were not tired of embarking on illicit business regardless of numerous arrests, the command would not be tired of arresting them too.
Idris said, “We are here again to handover three suspected rice smugglers with 81 bags of rice and a fibre boat with 175 HP Yamaha outboard engine; nine empty drums of 200 litres; two empty 100 litres drums. These suspects and their items were arrested at Mbo River on Tuesday and Friday respectively by our men on patrol.
“So as usual and in line with the harmonised standard operating procedures, this afternoon, I shall be handing over the suspects and the exhibits to the men of the Nigeria Customs for prosecution and necessary conviction.
“On this note, I want to assure the good and legitimate users of the seas of navy’s continuous assistance and protection towards their legitimate business that enhance economic growth of this nation.
“I will equally warn as usual that Nigerian Navy as I said during last arrest that even if it is two bags of rice that is suspected to come from any foreign country through this water, I will confiscate the items, arrest the suspects and hand them over to the appropriate authority for further necessary actions.
“I want to remind you that rice is contraband and it remains so. It should not pass through Nigerian water again because I will not get tired, my men will not be tired of arresting the smugglers if they do not get tired of bringing this rice into this country, I will also not get tired of getting them arrested and the contraband seized,” he vowed.
He, however, added that no threat or intimidation anywhere will make him to renege in the navy’s core mandate of securing Nigeria’s maritime space against smuggling or other forms of criminality.
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