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Smuggling: Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Victory intercepts 455 bags of rice from Cameroon; arrest suspects

Authorities of the Nigerian Navy disclosed on Tuesday that its personnel have intercepted 455 bags of smuggled parboiled rice from Cameroon valued at N8m and also arrested three suspects in the process.

The Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship Victory, Commodore Vincent Okeke disclosed this to newsmen in Calabar while handing over the contraband and the three suspects to the Nigeria Customs officials.

Commodore Okeke said, “We are here to hand over yet another set of 455 bags of rice smuggled from Cameroon and three suspects.

“The arrest was made on Sunday 19th of May. We are here with three suspects with Cotonou boats to hand them over to the Customs for investigations and prosecution.

“The street value of the rice is about N8m. But like I said during the previous handover, the value is not so significant.

“Put side by side the impact of smuggling on our economy, you will know that we should not focus on the value of rice.

“We should focus on the impact of smuggling on our economy, impact on unemployment, impact on the revenue that is supposed to accrue to the Federal Government.”

On the fight against smuggling and other maritime crimes, he said, “we remain unrelenting. The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admira Ibok-Ete Ibas has directed that we should strengthen our anti-smuggling efforts.

“That is what we are doing now. The message to the smugglers is that we won’t give up. We will get them arrested, hand them over to customs and they will most likely end up in prison custody.

“Since my resumption, there has not been any challenge. The Chief of Naval Staff has provided us with enabling logistics for our operations.

“The motivation for the smugglers is pecuniary gains. It can’t be more than that. They bring it at reduced cost and make profit.

“The arrest we have made has been traced to a particular name, one Mr. Emmanuel, a hotelier at Uyo. I want to believe that the customs will track and apprehend him.

“We are making efforts not only to ensure reduction of crime in the maritime domain but also total elimination of crime” he stated
Assistant Comptroller of Customs, Eastern Marine Command, Johnson Gabriel, said “I am here to take over 455 bags of rice, three suspects and a wooden boat.

“As usual, after taking over we will do our own investigations, prepare their case files and take the suspects to court.”

On prosecution of previous suspects handed over to customs, Gabriel said, “as I speak to you now, all the suspects handed over to us by the Nigerian Navy are already in court.

“They are now in prison custody and their prosecution has started. Some were arraigned two weeks ago at the Federal High Court, Calabar.

“We have a splendid synergy with the Nigerian Navy. At this period of Ramadan there is a high rate of smuggling activities as the smugglers believe people will need rice for Ramadan and maybe Sallah.

“The Navy is doing everything to help us and we are intensifying our own efforts too. Our investigations indicated that the three people that came in that boat are not the real owners.

“The real owners or consignees are Cameroonians. They went to Cameroon and collected these items, some of them on credit with the hope of coming to sell in Nigeria and returning the proceeds to the owners in Cameroon.

“With the revelation by the Commander of NNS Victory about one Mr. Emmanuel, we will take it up from there and see how we can get him apprehended,” he said.

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