No fewer than 834 bags of smuggled parboiled rice worth over N13m were confiscated from 19 suspects by operatives of the Nigerian Navy in Calabar, Cross River state capital. The Acting Commander of NNS Victory, Navy Captain Ajomabi Oride, disclosed that the suspects were arrested on Parrot Island along Bonny Channel Wednesday. He attributed the upsurge in illegal activities in the maritime corridor to the festive season which is fast approaching. He warned rice smugglers that it was no longer business as usual, “You can’t just smuggle foreign rice into the country, knowing that it is banned. “Smugglers of rice are saboteurs undermining Nigerian economy as their activities negatively impact local industries’, he said.
Captain Oride said sixteen of the suspects are Nigerians while three are Cameroonians. While handing over the suspects and rice to the immigration and customs officials, he urged the media to assist in educating the public about the ban on imported rice. 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, He further added that the rice would be taken to a government warehouse awaiting a court injunction. 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.