The Commander of the Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Victory in Calabar, Cross River State, Commodore Vincent Okeke, has warned that militants, smugglers and oil bunkerers, will not be tolerated within his area of operation.
Okeke spoke yesterday at the NNS Victory jetty after handing over 724 bags of foreign rice worth about N13 million and eight suspects to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
According to him, the suspects and items were arrested in two large wooden boats, popularly known as Cotonou Boat, on the Calabar Channel by his men on patrol.
The Commander said they were heading for Akwa Ibom State from neighbouring Cameroon.
He said: “We are handing them over as expected to the Customs for further investigations and prosecution. The message is clear. For this to happen shortly after my resumption means they want to test my will. I can promise them I am equal to the task. Militants, smugglers, bunkerers should all stay away. I will not tolerate any such thing in my area of operation.
“Our work here is to make our waters safe. We have maintained 24 hours patrol along the Calabar Channel. I assure all well meaning Nigerians and seafarers that the water is safe for them.”
The Assistant Comptroller of Customs in charge of Eastern Marine Command, Calabar, Gabriel Johnson, was happy with the relationship between the Navy and the Customs.
He said: “We are elated about the relationship with the Navy. These waterways are not safe for any smuggler. We would work with the Navy to make sure they do not have their way.”
According to him, there would be further investigation after which the suspects would be prosecuted and the bags of rice confiscated by the Federal Government.