Navy seizes 1,831 bags of rice smuggled by sea from Cameroon
No fewer than 24 suspects were arrested with 1,831 bags were arrested by the Nigeria Navy forward operating base (FOB) at Ibaka in Mbo local government area of Akwa Ibom.
This was disclosed by the commanding officer of the FOB, Peter Yilme while addressing reporters in Ibaka on Sunday.
Peter Yilme disclosed that five wooden boats used in smuggling the rice from Cameroon to Nigeria were also seized, and that the arrest was made during routine operations by operatives in the past one month.
During the handling over of the suspects and items to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Kabiru Yusuf, a base operations officer who represented Yilme said the command would remain steadfast in fighting criminals on Nigeria’s territorial waters in line with the directive of the chief of naval staff.
The suspects and items were recieved by an officer of the NCS, Dauda Garuba from the navy.
Two of the suspects claimed they were not told that they were to carry bags of rice from Cameroon to Nigeria while another said he was told that he would be transporting fish.
He said it was when the rice was loaded into the boat that he realised that he would not be conveying fish as told.
The federal government closed Nigeria’s land borders in August to check smuggling. While some Nigerians condemned the action, other citizens praised the government’s initiative.
In October, the Gombe state chapter of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) expressed its support for the border closure, saying farmers in the country can produce enough rice to feed Nigerians and to export.
Kalagar Lubo, state secretary of RIFAN, said the closure is a positive development that will promote the production of fresh locally made rice.
“With the extension of rains to the end of October, the yield will be good. The home production is very good, first it is fresh and the value is good. If the border is opened the farmer will not have it good. When you buy a bag at N10,000, it will cost you just N20,000 for two bags. When you go to the market, a bag of foreign rice is sold at N18,000,” he had said.