The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom, has arrested four suspected smugglers, and seized their boats and outboard engines used in illegal bunkering and smuggling of contraband goods into Nigeria.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Yusuf Idris, who disclosed this added that his men had also seized 62 drums of automotive gas oil which were being moved in a wooden boat from Rivers into Akwa Ibom waterway.
According to him, four suspected hoodlums, Nsidebe Monday, 26; David Etim, 31; Oto Bassey, 29, and Benjamin Abia, 40, were apprehended over the illegal bunkering of AGO.
The Commanding Officer said the Nigerian Navy under the present leadership would not relent till the Nigerian waterways are rid of all criminal elements.
He added that his operating base had continued to live up to expectation by the arrests and seizures its officers made in one week.
“If you can remember, on Tuesday and Friday, we handed over smuggled bags of rice to the Nigerian Customs Service.
“And during that handling over, I made a promise that the Nigerian Navy under the present leadership will not relent till our waterway is rid of all illegality.
“I’m sure we have lived up to our promise because this week alone, we had made three arrests. We will continue to make more arrests and seizure as long as the criminals are not willing to stop their illegal activities,” he said.
He said that the operating base on Friday also seized 271 bags of illegally imported rice from Cameroon during a routine sea patrol at Parrot Island in Mbo LGA around 5:30 a. m.
The commander handed over the products and the suspects to the Comptroller, Eastern Marine Command, Nigeria Customs Service, Mr Ajiya Masaya and to the Divisional Officer in charge of Mbo Division, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr James Udeme.
Idris, after he had handed over the suspects and the items to the sister security agencies , assured Nigerians that the Nigerian Navy would continue to follow up every bit of the matter to see that justice is done to the Nigerian state.
He said, “I urge you to please take these products and make sure that you follow up for further investigation and possibly prosecution as the Nigerian Navy after handing over will continue to follow up all the cases.
“We will follow up not only this one that we have handed over to you but also those handed iver to other agencies.
“We will continue to follow up to ensure that justice is done to the Nigerian state so that the country will get to the level of the economic prosperity which she is destined to have.”
Mr Majiya Masaya of the Nigeria Customs Service in his response thanked the Nigerian Navy for cooperating with the Nigeria Custom Service to curb the menace of smuggling in the country.
He appealed to Nigerians to help expose the activities of smugglers by giving useful information to security agencies that could lead to the arrest of suspects.
“Precisely four days ago, we were here to take delivery of 759 bags of rice recovered from smugglers. Now we have taken delivery of another 271 bags of rice.
“We have often said that curbing smuggling is not always the duty of customs alone; our sister security agencies can also help us.
“Stop smuggling, engage in legitimate business; if you don’t know it, approach any customs formation, it is our own duty to educate you.
“We have what is called trade facilitation. Come to our office, we will advise you on what to import and what not to import,” he said.
One of the suspects, Nsidebe Monday, told newsman that they arrived Akwa Ibom from Ifoko in Rivers, where they bought the product at N7,000 per drum.
He said that on their way back to Calabar, the navy in Akwa Ibom arrested them.