THE Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, has seized boats and outboard engines used in illegal oil bunkering and smuggling of contraband goods into the country.
It was learnt that men of the FOB on Saturday seized 62 drums of Automotive Gas Oil, which were moved in a wooden boat from Rivers State into Akwa Ibom waterway around 5:30am.
Four suspected hoodlums, Nsidebe Monday, 26; David Etim, 31; Oto Bassey, 29, and Benjamin Abia, 40, were apprehended by the navy in the operation.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Yusuf Idris, in Ibaka on Sunday, said the Nigerian Navy under the present leadership would not relent till Nigeria waterways were rid of illegalities.
Idris added that his operation base had lived up to expectation, going by the arrests and seizure they made in one week.
“If you can remember, on Tuesday and Friday, we handed over smuggled bags of rice to the Nigeria Customs Service. During that handing over, I made a promise that the Nigerian Navy under the present leadership will not relent till our waterways are rid of all illegalities.
“I’m sure we have lived up to our promise because this week alone, we have made three arrests and we will continue to make more arrests and seizure as long as the illegalities and criminals are not willing to stop,” he said.
The navy also seized 271 bags of illegally imported rice from Cameroon at about 5:30am on Friday, during a routine sea patrol at Parrot Island in Mbo LGA.
Some of those arrested in the operation were Asuquo Etim, 42; Victor Okon, 26; Nsika Okon, 22; Godwin Asuquo, 19; and Esio Okpohobia, 20.
Idris handed over the products and the suspects to the Comptroller, Eastern Marine Command, Nigeria Customs Service, Mr. Ajiya Masaya, and CIC to the Divisional Officer in charge of Mbo Division, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr. James Udeme.
While handing over the suspects and the items, Idris said, “So, I urge you to please take these products and make sure that you follow up for further investigation and possibly prosecution, as the Nigerian Navy, after handing over, will continue to follow up all the cases.
“Not only this one that we have handed over to you, but also to all agencies. We will continue to follow up to ensure that justice is done to the Nigerian state so that the country will get to the level of the economic prosperity which she is destined to have.”
Masaya thanked the navy for cooperating with the NCS to curb the menace of smuggling through Nigeria’s waterways.
He asked Nigerians to help in exposing the activities of smugglers by giving useful and timely information that could lead to the arrest and prosecution of the suspects to the service.