By: PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State has said that the Command has arrested eight suspects with 608 bags of 50kg rice.
The eight suspects were arrested in three different operations by Navy gunboats on 6th and 7th February 2020 with 47, 42 and 519 bags of rice each converged in three medium sized boats.
Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Peter Yilme, handed over the suspects and items on Wednesday in Ibaka to Superintendent of Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS), Wasiu Adebowale.
He warned the smugglers that FOB will not relent in arresting them and ending illegal activities on the waterways as long as they don’t desist from the trade.
Speaking on behalf of the CO, FOB Base Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kabiru Yusuf said “On behalf of the Commanding Officer, Captain Peter Yilme, I, Lieutenant Commander K. Yusuf, hand over 608 bags of rice, 8 suspects and 3 boats to Superintendent of Customs Service, W. Adebowale.
While receiving the suspects and items, SC Adebowale said, “I, Wasiu Adebowale have taken over 608 bags of 50kg of rice, 8 suspects and 3 boats”.
Two of the suspects, Michael Okon and Joseph Etim, both from Akwa Ibom state said they were forced into bringing the rice from Cameroon because they were hustling to survive.
Okon who said it was his first time explained that he needed money to bury his dead mother that was why he got involved in the trade.
“I went to Cameroon to go and buy rice, on my way back, Navy stopped me and brought me here. I don’t have money to bury my mum, that is why I decided to go and bring in rice since i don’t have anybody to help me, so I would have money to bury my mum,” he said.
Joseph Etim who also said it was his first time smuggling rice stated that lack of a job led him into the business.
He said, “I am here because I was caught smuggling rice. I just went to Cameroon to buy rice and on my way coming back, the Naval police arrested me.
“I don’t have somebody to help me so when I saw the opportunity, I went to Cameroon. I was hustling to survive, somebody sent me to go and bring the rice”.