By Chioma Onuegbu – Uyo
The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, (FOB)Ibaka, in Mbo local government area of Akwa Ibom State said it has arrested eight suspects and seized 608 bags of 50kg rice from them.
According to the Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Peter Yilme, the eight suspects were arrested in Akwa Ibom during three different operations by Navy gunboats this February 2020.
Yilme who was represented by the Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kabiru Yusuf made this known while handing over the suspects and items to the Superintendent of Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS), Wasiu Adebowale yesterday in Ibaka, Mbo local government area.
He warned the smugglers to desist from the illegal trade as the Nigerian Navy will not relent in arresting them in its effort to end the illegal activities on the waterways.
He 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”
Meanwhile, two of the suspects, Michael Okon and Joseph Etim, both from Akwa Ibom state said they were forced into the rice smuggling business in order to survive and to be able to solve pressing family issues.
Okon who claimed to be a first timer in the business, confessed, “I went to Cameroon to go and buy rice, and on my way back, Navy officers stopped me and brought me here. I don’t have money to bury my mother, and since I don’t have anybody to help me I decided to go into the rice trade to make some money”
On his part Etim linked his involvement in the rice smuggling business to lack of a job, saying, “I am here because I was caught smuggling rice. I 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 this opportunity of going to bring rice from Cameroon for somebody I decided to go. I hustle to survive”.