Barely five days after six suspected rice smugglers were arrested in Ibaka, Akwa Ibom state, the Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka in Mbo Local Government Area has paraded another five suspects and seized 516 bags of rice allegedly smuggled from the Republic of Cameroon. Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Peter Yilme handed over the suspects and seized items to the Nigeria Customs Service. Parading the suspects in Ibaka, the Commanding Officer, FOB, Capt. Peter Yilme, explained that the navy patrol team intercepted the suspects with foreign parboiled rice suspected to be smuggled from the Republic of Cameroon in two separate operations along the Akwa Ibom waterways. He recalled that on January 18, at about 0400 hours around Unyenge creek, 356 bags of rice and a medium wooden boat were seized while the suspects jumped overboard on sighting the naval patrol boats. Continuing, Capt. Yilme said on January 19, at about 0155 hours, five suspects were arrested and 160 bags of rice, including one medium sized wooden boat were again seized by the naval patrol team around Parrot Island.

While handing over the five suspects and 516 bags of smuggled rice to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Yilme said that though the smugglers have become more daring in their trade, the Nigerian Navy will not relent in its efforts to put an end to illegal activities on the waterways. He commended the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas and the Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral David Adeniran for their encouragement, support and the approval of materials for the base. An Assistant Superintendent of Customs, Ali Garko received the suspects and items from the navy. In an interview with our correspondent, one of the suspects, Sunday Asuquo from Oron Local Government Area said he was arrested while bringing rice from Bakassi Peninsula to Oron. Eyo, who is a commercial motorcyclist, said his motorcycle broke down and since he had no money to repair it, he accepted the offer to ferry the rice from Bakassi Peninsula. Read Also: Akeredolu accuses farmers of encroaching into forest reserves He said that “I was bringing rice from Bakassi Peninsula to Oron when I was arrested. This is my first time; I am a commercial motorcyclist, but my motorbike had an accident and I didn’t have money to repair it. “The money I had, I used to bury my brother and after that I did not have money again. The owner of the rice promised to pay me N6, 000.” Another suspect, Ezekiel Williams from Oron Local Government Area said he was carrying rice from Ataobong to Udung Uko when he was arrested by the navy.

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