Reports availed Cross River Daily News say the authority of Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS Victory) had seized no fewer than 3039 bags of contraband rice valued at N46 million in Bakassi.
The Commander of the ship, Commodore Julius Nwagu, stated this while conducting newsmen round the goods at the state government’s warehouse, on Monday in Calabar.
He said that the seizure was the largest so far by the Navy in the state, and that the consignment came in from the Republic of Cameroon and was to be sold in the open markets in Cross River.
Nwagu said the parboiled rice was smuggled through Effiong Nsung community, adding that a suspect had been apprehended over the seizure.
He said that four trucks used in conveying the rice had been handed over to the Nigerian Customs Service.
Nwagu said: “The value of the rice is about N46 million and this is outside the 257.50kg bags we equally seized just some days ago.”
Nwagu said that the Navy had zero tolerance for all forms of criminality in the nation’s waterways and would continue to collaborate with other agencies to end such illegalities.
He said: “This seizure is remarkable as this is the first time the Navy will extend its tentacles to the Bakassi waters with a view to adding momentum to the war against banned rice.
“The Navy will soon move into the market to mop up banned foreign rice.
“I want to use this opportunity to advise our traders that sooner than later we are going to move to the market, shop-by-shop, to get every foreign rice that is banned.
“The Navy will continue to ensure that we implement government’s policies and there is no going back on it.”
He said the Force was presently waging “serious war’’ against smuggling, adding that the command was going after those who owned the products rather than the boat drivers.
Joshua Omachi, Assistant Controller of Customs, Eastern Marine Command, who received the suspect and the goods, said the command would continue to partner sister agencies to end smuggling.
Omachi disclosed that about 14,000 bags of 50kg parboiled rice had been seized this year in the state.
The controller restated the determination of the command to end all forms of smuggling in the state.
He assured that as soon as investigation was completed, the suspect would be charged to court and the goods would be forfeited.
The suspect, Lawrence Omaka, told NAN in an interview, that he went into the business in order to feed his children.