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Navy arrests 24 persons with 1,831 bags of smuggled rice in Akwa Ibom

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The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Council Area of Akwa Ibom State has said it arrested 24 persons and seized 1,831 bags of smuggled rice from them.

Commanding Officer of FOB, Captain Peter Yilme, disclosed this at the weekend in Ibaka, while handing over the suspects, saying they used five wooden boats in smuggling the 50kg bags of rice from Cameroon.

He said the Naval officers and men made the arrests in four different operations during routine patrol in their gunboats.

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Yilme explained that on November 27, 2019 four suspects were arrested with 294 bags of rice in a boat and on December 5, 2019, eight suspects were arrested in a boat with 87 bags of rice.

He added that between December 7 and 11, 2019 seven suspects were arrested in two boats with 1,270 bags of rice, while eight suspects were arrested in a boat with 172 bags.

While handing over the suspects and items to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Yilme, who was represented by the Base Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kabiru Yusuf, said the command would remain steadfast in fighting illegalities on the waterways in line with directive of the Chief of Naval Staff.

“On behalf of the Commanding Officer, I Captain Peter Yilme, handed over 1,831 bags of rice and 24 suspects to the Superintendent of Customs, Dawuda A. Garuba,” he said.

Receiving the 24 suspects and the items from the Nigerian Navy, Garuba said, “On behalf of the border drill team, I, Dawuda A. Garba do hereby take over as stipulated in the handover notes.”

Two of the suspects who were drivers of the boats said they were not told that they were to carry rice from Cameroon to Nigeria.

One of the suspects, Etim Edet, a boat worker from Adadia in Uruan Council Area of Akwa Ibom State, said he was told that he would bring in fish from Cameroon.

Edet explained that he only realised he would be carrying rice at the point they were being loaded into the boat as against fish as he was earlier told.

“I am a boat driver and I didn’t know that bringing in rice from Cameroon was wrong. This is my first time. I ply my trade in Esio, Adadia.

“I was told that I will be carrying fish but when I went, I saw them loading rice into the boat. Since I am not the owner of the boat, I didn’t know that they planned to carry rice with it. The owner of the boat knows that I have been arrested,” he said.

Another suspect, Felicity Omojoakinjere said, “I was arrested because I went to Cameroon to carry rice, but the rice is not mine. I am a boat worker and I have not carried rice before. I use to carry provisions. It was not until the rice was loaded into the boat that I knew I was to carry rice.”

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