Men of the Nigerian Navy, at Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Mbo local government area, Akwa Ibom State have intercepted sea going boats from Cameroon with 370 bags of rice illegally smuggled into Nigeria. Speaking today ( 15/8/2019) in Ibaka during the hand over of five (5) suspected smugglers who were arrested with the cargo and the bags of rice each weighing 50kg to officials of Nigeria Customs Service, the Commanding Officer, FOB, Ibaka, Captain Toritseju Vincent, said the Navy has made consistent arrests of illegally smuggled rice in its drive to fulfill its anti smuggling patrol functions. His words:
“Our continuing drive and one of our major functions in the Nigerian Navy is anti smuggling patrols, and with our cooperation with the Nigeria Customs Service, we have consistently made arrests of illegal smuggling of rice from Cameroon into Nigeria. So an arrest was made on Monday, the 12th of August 2019 of these five suspects with a large wooden boat conveying 370 bags of rice. I want to use this opportunity to thank the Customs for the continuous and unwavering support to curb this menace. “On behalf of the Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Naval Command, I hereby hand over these 370 bags of the illicitly smuggled rice to the Nigeria Customs Service,”
While taking over the suspects and the ceased cargo, The Chief Superintendent of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), in charge of operations in Akwa Ibom State, Olutola John, express gratitude to men of the Nigerian Navy for their cooperation and support for the Customs Service. He pledge that his unit will continue to work with the Navy to combat the activities of cross boarder smuggling from Cameroon. In an attempt to distance himself from the syndicate one of the arrested suspects, Mr. Robin Sunday Robin who claims that he is a native of Mbo in Akwa Ibom State said he was hired as a water bailer to work with one of the boats. He stated that it was his first time as a water bailer and he was not aware that bringing in rice from Cameroon was against the law. “I was hired as a water bailer by the owner of the rice, Mr Chimezie to go to Cameroon and bring his rice for him. On my way back, I saw a navy gun boat. I was arrested after I told them I was carrying 370 bags of rice. “They took me down to the navy base and locked me. This is my first time of being hired as a water bailer and I did not know that bringing in rice from Cameroon is wrong,” he said.
The Naval Unit at FOB Ibaka had in December, 2018 foiled a similar operation and arrested 8 smugglers with 520 bags of rice weighing 50kg each brought through the same route from Cameroon. European and Asian sourced rice smuggling through Cameroon has been one of the running battles of the Nigerian Customs Service over the years.