A speech and hearing impaired man was among the 12 suspected smugglers arrested by the personnel of the Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, in the Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The suspects, all males, were arrested in three different operations around the Effiat waterways with 708 bags of 50kg rice during routine patrol by naval gunboats.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Peter Yilme, while handing over the suspects to the Nigeria Customs Service in Ibaka, said though the smugglers had devised new strategies of evading arrest, the naval personnel would not relent in curtailing the illegal trade.
Yilme, who was represented by the Base Operation Officer, Lt. Commander, Kabiru Yusuf, said some of the suspects dug holes in the boat to take in water and sink the boat when they were accosted by naval personnel.
He commended officers and ratings of the base for their resilience and hard work in tackling smuggling, adding their action was in line with the directives of the Chief of Naval Staff and in compliance with the reference of the FOB.
He noted that sea pirates had also reduced in the area.
“On behalf of the Commanding Officer, I am handing over 708 bags of smuggled rice and the suspects arrested by the navy in three different operations to the Nigeria Customs Service,” Yilme said.
Receiving the suspects and bags of rice, a Deputy Superintendent of Customs, Alabi, Adedokun, commended the navy for the cooperation existing between it and the NCS and for the frequent arrest of smugglers.