CALABAR – As the war curb smuggling rages on, the Nigerian Navy, Eastern Naval Command with the commitment of its patrol team has intercepted suspected smugglers with 692 bags of rice and 95 drums of premium motor spirit PMS, in separate operations in Cross River State.
Briefing newsmen in Calabar yesterday, the Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship Victory, Commodore Vincent Okeke, said that the feat was recorded in a separate operations carried out by the Victory patrol team deployed for ‘Operation Swift Response’ and the newly activated “Ex Yangha Mi” Base patrol teams.
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According to him, the suspects were arrested in connection with the seized rice worth over N30 million.
They are Emmanuel Etim Asuquo, Sunday Okon Inyang, Mfon Edet Ekpo, Christopher Edet, Ini Okon Edet, and Sino Edet Asuquo, while those arrested in connection with the seized PMS are Titiola Richard Alaba, Dorothy Omolaye David, Agbonu Gabriel, Ernest Johnson Omoseyin and Medoye Omolade Shagari Happiness.
The suspect,s he said, were all Nigerians.
Okeke explained: “The first set of contraband items were arrested on the August 29 on board a wooden boat with five suspects,” adding, “when the boat was brought here, it had 95 drums of premium motor spirit popularly known as petrol. The suspects confirmed that they were about exporting the product to Cameroon.”
Also he added that his team, on the 5th of this month, arrested yet another set of six suspects in a wooden boat carrying 692 bags of rice. The rice was smuggled in from Cameroon. The boat was arrested near our border with Cameroon and they were en route to Akwa Ibom State.”
He declared: “Since my resumption, we have made several arrests amounting to 4,000 bags of rice and 112,500 liters of PMS, several suspects, bales of used clothes, second-hand tires and drums of palm oil. Currently, we have Operation Swift Response which is aimed at stamping out smuggling.”
Okeke noted that “despite all efforts to curb the illegal activities, these smugglers have persisted. We will continue to encourage you to help us disseminate information on the damage smuggling is having on our economy. We will also continue to damage the businesses of these smugglers when arrested and they will also be made to face the law.
“On the issue of piracy, as I told you, we have deployed more boats. Gladly the Chief of Naval Staff has continued to support us in terms of logistics. So we don’t have any challenges in deploying the boats. And we deploy 24 hours along this channel.
“The waterways are calm and smooth. The smugglers should go and look for other businesses. Smuggling is causing great harm to our economy, he reiterated.”
A Superintendent of Customs and Head of Operation Swift Response, Nda Zakari Shuaibu, was on hand to receive the contraband items on behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service, Eastern Marine Command, Calabar.
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