Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Nigerian Navy has arrested eight oil smugglers and three boats laden with eighty-one drums of petroleum products.
The suspects were arrested on September 11, 2019 by NNS Victory patrol team along the offshore Ibaka while on outbound transit to Cameroon
Handing over the suspected smugglers of petroleum products along with the products to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps during the weekend in Calabar, the Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship Victory, Commodore Vincent Okeke, said they intensified the monitoring of the nation’s maritime and land borders in accordance with the directive of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ette Ibas, to stamp out smuggling activities.
The suspects are Blessing Bassey Etim, Anano Solomon Edimo, Christopher Enefion Etim, and Ndiba Victor. Others are Blessed Samson Akpan, Uzoma James, Edet Ekpenyong Esu and Emmanuel Iseh Bassey.
Okeke said: “The drums of suspected PMS were concealed under several empty drums all in a bid to evade arrest. However, after offloading at the Base, a total of 81 drums of PMS were recovered.
“These suspects were granted bail to afford the Base adequate time to investigate the matter. They were re-arrested on 15 October, 2019 upon the establishment of a prima facie case against them.
“In line with this directive, NNS Victory has continued to make several arrests. From 2018 to date, the Base has arrested a good number of wooden boats laden with about 21,000 bags of rice, and other contraband items valued at over N350 million. It is unfortunate that despite the relentless efforts of the Base, these suspected smugglers decided to test their luck.
“The present arrest of these suspects therefore further underscores the Base’s intolerance to smuggling activities within the Calabar waterways,” he stated.
He explained that in line with extant regulations, the confiscated items and the eight suspected smugglers havw been handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps for further investigation and prosecution.
Receiving the suspects and items, the National Security and Civil Defence Corp, NSCDC, Commandant in charge of the state, Deputy Commandant Etom Ofem, said:“after completing our preliminary investigation, we will proceed to court immediately. The outcome of the investigation will determine exactly which way we will go.”
He confirmed that the command seized litres of petroleum products are in dump in one of the filling stations.