The Commanding Officer, Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Muhammed Kabiru said Navy has impounded 40 bags of smuggled rice as well as the boat used in smuggling the rice.
Kabiru in a statement on Wednesday said the bags of rice were seized on February 15 during routine patrol operations explaining that the smugglers on sighting the naval patrol team abandoned the rice and the boat and fled.
The commanding officer said that the seizure was based on the directives of the Chief of Naval Staff Vice Adm. Auwul Gambo, of zero tolerance to all forms of criminalities on Nigeria maritime domain, particularly smuggling of rice and crude oil theft.
“We came across a boat suspected to be a smuggling boat. Upon sighting our gunboat, the crew jumped into the water and swam to the nearby creek, thereby escaping arrest.
“We have no option than to tow the boat to the base. The boat is here at the jetty with the outboard engine, the content of the boat has been discharged, which is 40 bags 50kg of rice are here.
He however handed the content of the boat: 40 bags of 50kg rice to Superintendent Kikems Danbana of Nigeria Customs Service, Joint Border Patrol Team, Oron axis for further investigation and possible prosecution.
The commanding officer warned smugglers to relocate out of the Nigerian maritime borders, stressing that it would not be business for them as usual.
He urged them to desist from smuggling and other illegal businesses and engage in legitimate endeavours.
“I will like to use this opportunity to warn those maritime criminals that it is not going to be business as usual. That they should desist from their criminal ways and engage in genuine business, otherwise the long arm of the law will catch up on them”, he said.
Receiving the 40 bags of rice on behalf of Nigerian Custom Service, Kikems Danbana, Officer in Charge of Oron Axis, Joint Border Patrol Team said the custom would do everything possible to stop smuggling in the country.
Danbana urged the smugglers to desist from the illegal trade, stressing that the NCS would continue to check all economic sabotage in the country.