One thousand four hundred and forty one bags of foreign rice seized from some suspected smugglers by operatives of the Nigerian Navy attached to the NNS BEECROFT were on Tuesday handed over to the Nigeria Customs Service Lagos Free Trade Command and the Western Marine Command respectively.
The suspects, five male Nigerian citizens were also handed over to the Nigerian Customs for further investigation.
A statement by the Base Information Officer, Lieutenant H. Ibrahim, disclosed that the arrest and seizures took place from September 2022 to February 2023, as part of the Navy’s efforts to ensure compliance with the existing Federal Government’s ban on importation of foreign rice.
Giving a breakdown of the seizures and arrest, the statement reads that: “Specifically, on 14 September 2022, the Base patrol team intercepted a large wooden boat smuggling about 465 bags of foreign rice around Ibeju Lekki beach area while the smugglers narrowly escaped.
“Accordingly, the Base handed over the contraband cargo of 465 bags of foreign rice to the Nigeria Customs Service, Lagos Free Trade Command on Friday 16 September 2022.
“Similarly, on Tuesday 1 November 2022, The Base handed over 5 suspected smugglers and 300 bags of foreign rice to Nigeria Customs Service, Western Marine Command for further investigation and prosecution. The suspects and the contraband were intercepted on Wednesday 14 October 2022 by the Base patrol team during routine patrol around Badagry maritime area.
“Additionally, on Monday 24 October 2022, NNS BEECROFT gunboat patrol team intercepted a large wooden boat laden with 209 bags of foreign rice around Badagry Beach area. However, the suspected smugglers jumped overboard to evade arrest. Accordingly, the contraband items were handed over to Nigeria Customs Service, Western Marine Command on Wednesday 30 November 2022.”
The statement explains the other seizures saying: “On Wednesday 30 November 2022, the Base gunboat patrol team intercepted 2 large wooden boats laden with 312 bags of foreign rice. While on Wednesday 8 February 2023, the patrol team also intercepted a wooden boat laden with 155 bags of foreign rice around Ibeju Lekki Beach area. Accordingly, the Base handed over 467 bags of foreign rice to Nigeria Customs Service, Western Marine Command on Friday 10 February 2023.”
Accordingly, the Commander NNS BEECROFT, Rear Admiral Malami Haruna, used the occasion to warn smugglers of contraband items as well as other criminal elements operating within the Base Area of Operations to desist from all forms of criminalities.
He added that NNS BEECROFT would not rest on its oars in its effort to rid the waters of spoilers and all criminal elements in line with its mandate as directed by the Chief of the Naval Staff.
He further assured law- abiding citizens of the unwavering commitment and continuous support of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, towards curbing illegalities within the nation’s maritime domain thereby boosting national prosperity.