The Nigerian Navy said on Monday that it seized 9,489 bags of rice smugglers plying their illicit trade through the nation’s waterways.
The seizure, according to the Navy, was made between January and August 2019.
It said it seized 919 bags of the smuggled commodity in August alone.
The latest arrest according to its Director of Information, Commodore Suleiman Dahun, was made at Mbo River in Akwa-Ibo, during which nine suspected smugglers were arrested, with 502 bags of rice valued over N10 million.
Commodore Dahun disclosed that the bags of rice were being conveyed in three outboard engines, which were also seized by naval officials. Also recovered from the suspects, according to him, were two pumping machines.
“This brings the number of seized rice in the month of August 2019 to 919 bags, while the total number of bags of rice seized so far by the Nigerian Navy in year 2019 are 9,489 bags.
“The Naval Headquarters commended the sustained efforts of the Base in checking smuggling activities. The Base was similarly enjoined to sustain efforts towards curbing all forms of illegalities especially smuggling activities in line with the objectives of the ongoing operation swift response.”
He said a seized barge named “Ebizarh” and a tugboat named “Hebizarh” with three crew members have been handed over to the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution.
“The two vessels were arrested at Nigerian Agip Oil Company terminal in Brass, Bayelsa State, for conveying 600 metric tonnes of suspected illegally refined AGO,” Dahun said.