The Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT, Rear Adm. Bashir Mohammed, on Tuesday, said that 81 smugglers of contrabands and seven stowaways had been arrested in the last four months.

Rear Adm. Mohammed, represented by NNS BEECROFT’s Base Operations Officer, Lt.-Cdr. Adetayo Adesokan, stated this at a news conference, held at NNS BEECROFT.

The commander noted that a worrisome trend of foreigners smuggling contrabands into Nigeria’s territorial waters had been observed.

“The names and countries of origin of the foreigners will not be disclosed for diplomatic reasons,” Mohammed said.

He also said that 20 foreigners in two large wooden boats conveying about 268 bags of cannabis, worth over N120 million, were recently intercepted by the navy.

“In the last four months, about 81 foreigners have been arrested for smuggling various contrabands, ranging from cocaine, cannabis, rice and petroleum products, among others.

“There is a nexus between the smuggling and proliferation of hard drugs, and crime in Nigeria.

“However, these series of arrests made by Nigerian navy will continuously reinforce its resolve to clamp down on all acts of illegality,” he said.

Mohammed further stated that seven stowaways were intercepted from MV Chesapeake-Bay on Jan. 21, at Tin Can Island.

“The stowaways were attempting to get away from the country by entering the ship through the rudder department of the vessel.

“This is a call to all citizens to note that there are legitimate processes of leaving the country which everyone must strive to follow.

“The navy will not relent in its effort at ridding the maritime domain of all criminal elements under the guidance of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo,” Mohammed said.

The commander said that the smugglers would be handed over to National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the stowaways to the police. (NAN)