The Nigerian Navy on Friday in Lagos handed over 35 bags of foreign rice and five gallons of vegetable oil allegedly smuggled into the country through the Badagry watere ways to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The Commanding Officer Forward Operating Base (FOB) of the Nigerian Navy in Badagry, Navy Captain Tamuno Senibo, handed over the smuggled items at the base in Badagry, Lagos State, warning that smugglers and other miscreants using the waterways should not dare the will of the force as it will not hesitate to ensure that smugglers are dealt with according to the law.
He said that the smuggled goods were intercepted by naval operatives in Badagry, a border town with Benin Republic, on November 15.
He said: “During our routine patrol, we received a tip-off and we intercepted some contraband suspected to be smuggled into the country.
“The suspects, on sighting our men, fled the scene and left the goods.”
He said his men were still on their trail, warning other smugglers to steer clear of Nigeria’s waterways or face the wrath of the law.
According to him, part of the mandate of the navy, apart from policing the waters, is to assist the customs service in checking smuggling through the country’s waterways.
“This is what we are doing and in line with the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedure (HSOP), we are handing over these items to the NCS for further investigation.
“What we have done is in line with the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok-Ette Ibas’s strategic guideline.
“My advice to criminals is for them to stay away from the country’s waterways, as there will no longer be any hiding place for them.
“They should turn a new leaf in their own interest,” he said.
Assistant Superintendent of Customs Maxwell Lewis, who led a team of customs officers to take over the seized items, hailed the efforts of the navy.
Lewis urged the naval operatives not to relent in their efforts to curtail smuggling in the country.
The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, had recently directed naval commands to ensure that recently arrested vessels are processed and handed over to appropriate prosecuting agencies not later than December 15.
Addressing Principal Staff Officers, Flag Officers Commanding and Commanders of autonomous naval commands, Vice Admiral Ibas directed these units to work closely with zonal offices of prosecuting agencies and inform the Naval Headquarters and headquarters of such agencies of the handing over process. The CNS commended the senior commanders for the efforts being made to ensure that the nation’s maritime environment is safe, recalling the numerous operations and exercises conducted so far to achieve this feat. As we are approaching the end of the year, Vice Admiral Ibas charged the Commanders to ensure that activities of criminals are curtailed and efforts are intensified by the NN to firmly control the maritime environment.
A statement from the Naval Spokesman, Navy Commodore Suleman Dahun, quoted the Naval Chief as directing the Commanders to ensure that officers and ratings uphold the core values of the Navy which are professionalism, integrity and teamwork.
He also tasked the Commanders to lead by example, emphasise collective ownership of the Service and ensure the sanctity of the Service. He informed that the Navy was expecting new ships in year 2020 and called for proper and positive attitude towards the management of these new assets.
On the operationalisation of the ECOWAS Zone E, Vice Admiral Ibas stated that the operationalisation of the proposed MOU between Nigeria, Togo, Republic of Benin and Niger Republic would facilitate joint patrols, emphasising the collective resolve towards a safer Gulf of Guinea.