Four suspects have been arrested by the Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State in connection with the smuggling of 41 bags of contraband rice.
A fibre boat with 175 horsepower Yamaha outboard engine was also intercepted along with the 50kg bags of rice said to have been brought in from Cameroon.
Speaking over the weekend in Ibaka during the handover of the suspects and items to the Commanding Officer, FOB, Nigeria Customs Service, Captain Yusuf Idris, who was represented by Captain Reginald Adoki, said the navy would continue to arrest smugglers no matter how much they attempted to evade being apprehended, and warned them to desist from illegal businesses on the waterways.
Adoki stated, “I, Captain Reginald Adoki, on behalf of the Commanding Officer, FOB, Ibaka, Captain Yusuf Idris, hand over four suspects, 41 bags of 50kg rice and a fibre boat with 175 horsepower Yamaha outboard engine to the Nigeria Customs Service.
“No matter how little, no matter how much they attempt to evade arrest, the navy will always intercept and arrest them. If they have other things to do with their investments, it is better for them than to continue to engage in illicit activities, because the navy will always clamp down on them.
“This is one of those things that we have been doing around here and we will not relent in our efforts to keep arresting smugglers and other criminals on our waterways.”
The Assistant Controller, NCS, Ali Garko, who represented the Controller, Eastern Marine Command, Port Harcourt, Elton Edorhe, thanked the Nigerian Navy for making the work of the Customs easier and appealed that it should continue in that regard.
Garko added, “On behalf of my Controller, Eastern Marine Command, I receive 41 bags of foreign rice and a 175 Yamaha outboard engine, one fibre boat and four suspects.
“Definitely, the suspects will be prosecuted and whatever is taken as goods seized will be forfeited, as the law says, to the Federal Government.”
We thank the Nigerian Navy for making our work easier and hope this will continue,” he said.
However, one of the suspects, Pastor China Osuji, denied involvement in the crime, saying that he boarded the boat to get to Lagos and board a flight to Liberia for a church programme without knowing that it was carrying contraband rice.
He said, “We were travelling to Liberia from Cameroon; I am a pastor and a Nigerian from Imo State; I have been in Cameroon for more than 21 years, and this is not my first trip by water.
“We boarded a boat because there is no direct flight from Cameroon to Liberia; so, we were told to take a boat to Oron and from there to Lagos, and take a flight. We boarded the boat without knowing that it carried rice.
“I have followed this route once but not with bags of rice; I don’t deal in bags of rice. It was the immigration in Cameroon that directed us to board this boat. We did not see the content, because it was covered and they put our bags on it.”
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