The Nigerian Navy on Wednesday said it arrested no fewer than 197 suspected smugglers between 2015 and 2018 in Akwa Ibom and Cross River.
It added that in 2018, it destroyed 637 illegal refineries in the Niger Delta and 220 so far in 2019.
The Chief of Policy and Plans, Navy Headquarters, Rear Adm. Begroy Ibe-Enwo, disclosed this in Abuja at the commencement of activities marking the 63rd anniversary of the Nigerian Navy.
He said the arrests and destruction of the refineries resulted from anti-smuggling operations of the Navy, adding that the suspects, boats and products had been handed over to Nigeria Customs Service for appropriate action.
“Operation RIVER SWEEP’’ was activated primarily to address increasing activities of illegal refiners, particularly in Delta and Rivers.
“During the period in focus, the navy arrested a total of 25 smuggling boats cumulatively laden with a total of 26, 984 bags of rice out of which about 5, 500 were arrested this year (2019).
“The anti-smuggling operations led to the arrest of a total of 197 suspected smugglers operating in Akwa Ibom and Cross River.
“Accordingly, the arrested smugglers, boats and products were handed over to Nigeria Customs Service for appropriate action,’’ Ibe-Enwo said.
He said the achievements of the force in curbing smuggling activities was in a renewed drive towards eradicating rice smuggling in support of the FG policy on local rice production.
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He said another major operational achievement recorded by the Navy was the reduction in the losses occasioned by crude oil theft.