Nigeria Navy has announced the interception of a wooden boat stocked with 1221 bags of foreign rice by NNS Victory, a Nigerian Navy Ship.
Disclosing this while addressing journalist on Wednesday, at the handing over of suspects and impounded goods to men of Operation Swift Response Task Force, Commander of NNS Victory, Commodore Vincent Okeke said that seven suspect were intercepted alongside the 1221 bags of rice.
The impounded bags of rice are believed to have smuggled into the Nigerian territorial waters from Cameroon.
Okeke said, “On Saturday 26 October 2019 at about 0500, NNS Victory team intercepted a wooden boat laden with 1221 bags of foreign and rice suspected to have been smuggled into Nigerian territorial waters from Cameroon. The boat had seven all-Nigerian crew members and was intercepted offshore Ibaka.
“The suspects are Austine Ataejit, Napoleon Sanamy, Daniel Effiong Bassey, Inioyekenimi Sanugba, Bright Bassey Okon, Victor Edet Ita, and Nathaniel Jonathan.
“The seven suspects, 1221 bags of rice and one wooden boat are hereby handed over to the Task Force Leader, Operation Swift Response, Calabar area for further investigation. The total value of the seized items is about Thirty-Four million Four Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira (N34, 420,000.000) only.
“Since January, the Base has recorded 18 arrests of wooden boats of various sizes with 87 suspects and contraband items worth over N300 million. It is therefore believed that this arrest would serve as yet another deterrence to all those bent on wreaking havoc on the Nigerian economy.
“Let me again use this opportunity to warn all smugglers and criminally-minded elements to desist from the act of criminalities especially within the NNS Victory area of operation. I also want to remind them that the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibokete Ibas has zero-tolerance for any form of criminalities or vices in our maritime domain. As such, there is no room whatsoever for smuggling, illegal bunkering, crude oil theft and piracy in our waters.”
“Smuggling business is a dangerous business. It harms the national economy. I advise them to stay away from it. If they continue in it, they will also continue to lose their money and at the end of the day they will be severely punished after being prosecuted by the prosecuting agencies.”
The Navy boss said there was no noticeable increase in the activities of smugglers within his operation area since the closure of the Nigerian land borders, but there was an increase in the number of bags of smuggled rice.
According to him, “in the past, we often impounded boats with 400 to 500 bags of rice but this time they increased it to 1221 bags in one boat.”
Deputy Superintendent of Customs, Sanusi Barade, who received both the smuggled goods and the suspects on behalf of the Task Force which is codenamed ‘Border Drill,’ said the suspects would be prosecuted accordingly.
The task force, codenamed Border Drill, is made up of personnel from Customs, Immigration, Army, Police and other security and paramilitary organisations. “Border Drill”.