Military impounds smuggled rice, arrests 4 suspects

The military has impounded more than 900 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice and arrested four suspected smugglers in the ongoing “Operations Calm Waters and Swift Response’’ coordinated by the Nigerian Navy.

The Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brig.-Gen. Benard Onyeuko, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

Onyeuko said the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ibaka anti-smuggling team intercepted and arrested a medium size wooden boat laden with 293x50kg bags of the rice and four suspects.

He added that other items recovered include 2x90hp and 2x40hp outboard engines as well as four pumping machines.

“Similarly, the Nigerian Navy Ship Victory anti- smuggling team intercepted and arrested a wooden boat laden with 601x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice suspected to be smuggled from the Republic of Cameroon and four suspected smugglers at Agbami Platform.

“The items recovered and suspects were handed over to the Department of Marine Police, Calabar, for further investigations and possible prosecution,” he said.

Onyeuko disclosed that the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) had on March 21 reactivated “Exercise Treasure Guard II’’ following the cancellation of Exercise Obangame Express 2020.

Obangame express 2020 was scheduled to hold from March 21 to March 26 but was cancelled due to the global spread of COVID-19.

He added that the exercise was activated at the Western Naval Command.

According to him, the objective of the exercise was to assess the operational readiness of the Western Naval Command, Fleet and bases.

“To practice the Western Naval Command Fleet in tactical manoeuvres and anti-piracy operation as well as enhancing effective collaboration and operation ability between Maritime Law Enforcement Agencies amongst others.

“A total of six ships namely Nigerian Navy Ships: Nigerian Navy Ship Thunder Nguru, Dorina, Andoni, Tug Dolphin Rima and Tug Commander Ugwu participated in the exercise.’’

Onyeuko also disclosed that the FOBs within Western Naval Command Area of Responsibility, two Nigerian Navy Agusta Helicopters, two Detachments of Special Boat Service and several boats as well as some Maritime Law Enforcement Agencies participated in the Exercise.

“During the Exercise, several tasks and simulations were carried out. These include interrogation of Vessels of Interest, Maritime Interdiction Operation, Visit Board Search and Seizure, Anti-piracy and Casuality Evacuation amongst others.

“The exercise was deactivated on 23 March 2020 after a debrief and wash down onboard NNS Thunder.

“As a resemblance of Exercise Obangame Express that involves foreign navies, the successful conduct of Exercise Treasure Guard II is a pointer that the Nigerian Armed Forces can successfully plan and organise regional exercises similar to Exercise Obangame Express,” he said. (NAN)


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