The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Mbo local government area, Akwa Ibom State said it has arrested eight suspects with 608 bags of 50kg rice between 6th and 7th February, 2020.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Peter Yilme disclosed this to Newsmen in Ibaka on Wednesday while handing over the suspects and the seized items to Superintendent of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Wasiu Adebowale.
Represented by the Base Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kabiru Yusuf, the Commanding officer warned smugglers to refrain from illegal activities on the waterways noting that the command would not relent in arresting them and ending illegal activities on the waterways as long as they continue with the illegal trade.
Receiving the suspects and items, SC Adebowale said, “I, Wasiu Adebowale have taken over 608 bags of 50kg of rice, 8 suspects and 3 boats”.
Two of the suspects, Michael Okon and Joseph Etim, both from Akwa Ibom state told journalists that they were forced into rice smuggling due to hard times and financial responsibilities.
Okon who said it was his first time explained that he decided to venture into the trade because he needed money to bury his late mother.
According to him,”I went to Cameroon to buy rice, on my way back, Navy stopped me and brought me here. I don’t have money to bury my mum, that is why I decided to go and bring in rice since I don’t have anybody to help me, so I would have money to bury my mum.’
Joseph Etim who also said it was his first time of smuggling rice stated that lack of job led him into the business.
He said, “I am here because I was caught smuggling rice. I just went to Cameroon to buy rice and on my way back, the Naval police arrested me.
“I don’t have somebody to help me so when I saw the opportunity, I went to Cameroon. I was hustling to survive, somebody sent me to go and bring the rice.”