Thirteen suspected smugglers have been apprehended by the Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The suspects were arrested at the Unyenge Creek with 2,053 bags of rice in two different operations on January 26 and 29, 2020.
Speaking while handing over the suspects and contraband to the Nigeria Customs Service on Thursday at Ibaka, the Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Peter Yilme, said the suspects were arrested during a routine patrol by navy gunboats.
Yilme, who was represented by the Base Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kabiru Yusuf, commended the naval personnel for their efforts in checking illegal trades along the waterways and urged them not to relent.
He added that the arrests were made within three days after five suspects and 98 bags of rice were handed over to the NCS.
Yusuf stated, “On behalf of the Commanding Officer, FOB, Ibaka, I hand over 2,053 bags of seized rice and 13 suspects to DSC Garuba Hassan of the NCS.
“The arrest brings to fore the unrelenting drive of smugglers to continue their illicit acts. Nevertheless, the base will not relent in riding the waterways of all forms of criminal activities in order for legitimate economic activities to thrive.
“Smugglers are advised to turn a new leaf and embrace legitimate business activities. The FOB Ibaka appreciates once again the provision of necessary logistics to the base by the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ete Ibas.
“Additionally, the base will not be achieving its operational mandate if not for the support and encouragement accorded her by the FOC Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral David Adeniran.”
In his response after receiving the suspects, the Deputy Superintendent of Customs in the Mbo Local Government Area of the state, Garuba Hassan, thanked the naval personnel for their cooperation and synergy in ensuring that illegal trade along the waterways was minimised.