Navy arrests 19 suspects, seizes 834 bags of smuggled rice

Operatives of the Nigerian Navy in Calabar have arrested 19 suspects and seized 834 bags of smuggled foreign rice worth over N13m.

The Acting Commander of NNS Victory, Navy Captain Ajomabi Oride, disclosed that the suspects were arrested on Parrot Island along Bonny Channel on Wednesday.

Oride attributed the upsurge in illegal activities in the maritime corridor to the festive season.

He warned rice smugglers that it was no longer business as usual.

“For the past one month, we have made several arrests. You can’t just smuggle foreign rice into the country knowing that it has been banned,” he said.

Oride described smugglers of rice as saboteurs undermining the Nigerian economy, noting that their activities were having a negative impact on local industries.

Sixteen of the arrested smugglers are Nigerians, while three are from Cameroon.

Handing over the suspects and the seized bags of rice to Immigration and Customs officials, Oride urged the media to assist in educating the public about the ban on rice importation.

Assistant Controller, Eastern Marine Command, Calabar Outstation of the Nigeria Customs Service, Joshua Omachi, said the suspects would be taken into custody after which they would either be granted administrative bail or charged to court directly.

Omachi explained that the confiscated items would be taken to a government warehouse pending the decision of the court.

Also, the Superintendent of Immigration, Odu Nku, who took custody of the three Cameroonians, said the service would take the necessary steps by profiling the suspects.
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