…As Illicit traders takes over Nigerian waters, for full scale smuggling***
Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) with the backup of the Joint Security Task force flagged off, few days back, may have successfully achieved a water-tight, anti- smuggling land border closure, forcing smugglers to take to sea, where they know the Service has only hired wooden canoes to challenge their faster moving boats.
Investigation showed that whereas rice smuggling through the land borders have been effectively reduced, forcing market price of rice to surge, from N14,000 or N15,000 to its present N16,000 per bag.
Consequently, the idea of smuggling through water had never been so enticing or lucrative, as the smugglers understand that the only force to contend with was the Nigerian Navy, whose primary and secondary concerns were targeted at crude theft prevention and seizure of adulterated diesels, instead of rice smuggling.
The result was therefore, when Navy Cpt. Toritseju Vincent highlighted on a Thursday, two weeks ago that the Navy in Ibaka, handed over 502 bags of smuggled rice it intercepted, to the Nigeria Customs Service, very little reaction was elicited. The Navy Director of Information, Commodore Suleman Dahun further corroborated this, highlighting that the Nigerian Navy also arrested nine suspects, while seizing the 502 bags of foreign rice on Parrot Island waterways and Mbo River in Akwa Ibom.
It would be recalled that the Navy Capt. had equally mentioned that the team some days earlier, precisely on August 12, also intercepted 370 bags of smuggled rice, too. The rice, obviously, were being smuggled from Cameroon into Nigeria.
“An arrest was made on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019 of these five suspects, with a large wooden boat conveying 370 bags of rice.
An industry watcher, Tony Emeordi praised the Customs efforts at checkmating smuggling on land, even as he noted that the Service had seemingly abandoned the waters to the smugglers.
“It is like the Customs and the smugglers have achieved an unwritten MoU, which guarantees the smugglers use of waters, while the Service operatives effectively seal up the land border areas”, Emeordi said, pointing out that the war against smuggling may however never be won with such MoU.