The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Victory in Calabar has seized various contraband items including foreign rice, palm oil, fairly used tyres, bales of second hand clothes and premium motor spirit (petrol) from two large wooden boats, as well as arrested 14 suspects.
Commander, NNS Victory, Commodore Vincent Okeke who addressed reporters at their jetty in Calabar, said the boats were seized in separate arrests, but the total worth of items seized was N45 million.
While handing over the rice, tyres, palm oil, clothes and seven suspects from the first boat to the Nigeria Customs Service at the jetty, he said a third boat carrying an unknown number of bags of rice was also seized.
Okeke said the second boat with petrol and also seven suspects would be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as soon as investigations are completed.
He said, “On Friday 7 June 2019, acting on intelligence reports of the presence of a wooden boat suspected to be laden with various quantities of smuggled contraband items at Black Gate jetty by Old NPA Marina along Calabar Channel, NNS Victory quickly deployed a patrol team who intercepted and arrested the suspected wooden boat.
“Similarly on 9 June 2019, a gunboat while on patrol intercepted a wooden boat laden with drums of substance suspected to be PMS. The confiscated product was intercepted offshore Ibaka while transiting from Ibaka to Cameroon. The boat was discovered to be laden with 105 drums of PMS and manned by seven crewmembers all Nigerians. Also on Monday 11 June, the base arrested another boat carrying yet an unknown number of rice bags being smuggled in from Cameroon.”
Okeke, giving a breakdown of items seized from the first boat, said it had 449 bags of foreign rice, 115 drums of palm oil, 139 bales of clothing and a large quantity of tyres.
The Commander said smuggling activities are rife in border towns and cities in neighboring countries with weak customs regulations and border security arrangements.
He said smugglers take advantage of the situation for personal gains while countries like Nigeria run into economic problems due to their activities.
Okeke said in view of this NNS Victory has continued to intensify patrols of the suspected transit routes, boat hiding bays and offloading points.