The Nigerian Navy’s Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Ibaka, Akwa Ibom’s Mbo Local Government Area, has recovered 265 sacks of smuggled rice and detained the boats used in the smuggling.
FOB Commanding Officer, Navy Capt. Mohammed Abu, told reporters in Ibaka on Tuesday as he handed over the rice sacks to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The 265 sacks of rice were intercepted from smugglers by Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Thunder, commanded by Navy Capt. Christian Akokota, during routine patrol operations between Nov. 26 and Nov. 29.
The rice smugglers and the boats, he continued, had previously been handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for further investigation and prosecution.
He said the seizure followed the directives of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Auwul Gambo, of zero tolerance to all forms of criminality on Nigeria maritime domain, particularly, smuggling of rice and crude oil.
“Recalled between Nov. 26 and Nov. 29, NNS Thunder commanded by Capt. Akokota, seized cumulatively seven wooden boats carrying petroleum products and other exhibits, inclusive are 265 bags of parboiled rice which had been seized and kept in the base.
“Today, we are handing over the seized rice to NCS as part of Operation Tripartite that was initiated by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
“FOB Ibaka is a component of the Joint Border Patrol, I just want to state that other exhibits had been handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
“The joint border patrol which was initiated purposely because of smuggling of rice and that is why we are here to do the handing over of the 265 bags of rice to the (NCS), seized from the boats that were impounded by NNS Thunder.
“On this note, we humbly hand over the rice to Chief Superintendent of Customs, Rasaq Busari and the details are in the handing over note.
“We expect that on the completion, you will revert back to the Nigeria Navy on the outcome of the seizure,” Abu said.
Shehu Abubakar, the Comptroller of Customs, Sector 1 Port Harcourt, who received the bags of rice on behalf of NCS, said the customs would do all necessary to stop smuggling in the country.
Abubakar, who was represented by Razaq Busari, Chief Superintendent of Customs, Joint Border Patrol Team 1 Port Harcourt, advised the smugglers to stop their illicit business.
He went on to say that the NCS would continue to investigate all forms of economic sabotage in the country.
“I, Chief Superintendent of Customs, Busari, on behalf of the Joint Border Patrol Team 1 Port Harcourt, hereby takeover 265 bags of 50kg parboiled rice from FOB Ibaka on behalf of the Coordinator Joint Border Patrol, Comptroller Shehu Abubakar,” he stated.