Customs, Navy sink boat load of smuggled rice

David Adekunle, Lagos

Ship load of rice. File photo

Nigeria Customs Service Western Marine command and the Nigerian Navy have sunk a boat loaded with smuggled parboiled rice at Itohu near Badagry, Lagos State.

The patrol officers also seized another, loaded with 575 bags of the commodity in the same operation.

Speaking to journalists above the development, Customs Area Comptroller of Western Marine Command, Yusuf Umar, said the smugglers made attempts to escape but they were chased.

“The boats were heavily ladden and slow. The pressure made the smugglers head for the beach where they ran aground, causing water ingress into the boat.

We were able to retrieve 375 bags before the boat went down to the bottom of the sea, while the second boat was seized intact with 575 bags of rice, with Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N4,447,625.

No arrests were made because the boats were latched to a flying boat, with which the smugglers sped away when they realized they would be arrested. You can see the several bags of rice being dried up in the open space in our premises. It is part of the 375 bags recovered from the sinking boat,” he explained.

Cordial Relations

He attributed the success of the operation to the cordial relationship and collaboration between the Nigeria Customs and the Nigerian Navy.

It was important that we got the rice because its importation through the creeks is against Federal Government’s fiscal policy, which forbids rice importation through anywhere else except the seaports,” he disclosed.

Umar said that Navy Captain Simon Dogo, who played a significant role in the seizure of 26 sacks of cannabis last week, was the one who called on him at the wee hour alerted him of the movement of the rice boats.

While responding, Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy  BEECROFT command, Commodore Abraham Adaji said that the Navy, as an agency of the Federal Government, has the responsibility for the security of the maritime environment.

Adaji said it was Navy constitutional responsibility to enforce Customs and fiscal laws of Nigeria and assist the Customs.