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Navy Foils Rice Smugglers in Lagos

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The Nigerian Navy has intercepted a boat carrying 44 bags of foreign rice that was smuggled into the country through Agbara Creek in Lagos. The boat was seized on Wednesday morning by the personnel of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft, a naval base in Apapa.

According to the Commander of NNS Beecroft, Commodore Kolawole Oguntuga, the boat was detected by the surveillance system of the Navy, which uses Falcon Eye technology to monitor the maritime environment. He said the smugglers abandoned the boat and swam away when they saw the naval patrol.

Commodore Oguntuga said the seized rice was handed over to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) under the Operation Tripartite Border Patrol, which involves different security agencies. He warned smugglers to desist from their illegal activities, saying the Navy would continue to patrol the waters and enforce the laws and policies of the government.

He also said the Navy was committed to collaborating with other agencies to ensure the safety and benefits of the maritime domain. He added that the Navy participated in two exercises, Crocodile Lift and Grand African Nemo, to enhance regional maritime security and cooperation.

The NCS has been battling with rice smuggling for years, as it threatens the local rice industry and the economy. The NCS said it intercepted eight trailer loads of foreign rice worth N1.76 billion in Lagos last week. The NCS also said it seized 20 million bags of rice smuggled into Nigeria in three months.

The Federal Government has banned rice importation since 2015 as part of its efforts to boost local production and self-sufficiency. The government has also supported rice farmers and processors through various interventions and policies.

However, some Nigerians prefer foreign rice due to its perceived quality and taste. Smugglers take advantage of this demand and exploit the porous borders and waterways to bring in rice from neighboring countries such as Benin, Cameroon, and Togo.

The Navy has been vital in curbing rice smuggling and other illicit activities in the maritime domain. The Navy has also been involved in combating piracy, sea robbery, illegal fishing, oil theft, and terrorism in the Gulf of Guinea and beyond.

The Navy has also been improving its capacity and capability through training, acquisition of new platforms, and participation in joint exercises with other navies. The Navy recently graduated a batch of Special Boat Service operatives trained in amphibious warfare and counter-terrorism. The Navy also received a new Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat from the United States to enhance its operations.

The Navy said it would continue to uphold its constitutional mandate of defending Nigeria’s maritime interests and contributing to regional and global peace and security.

Source: Tribune Online

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