The Ebonyi State Government has impounded two trailers laden with foreign rice smuggled into the state on Tuesday, the Commissioner of Internal Security and Border Peace, Mr Stanley Emegha, has said.
The trailers were intercepted by members of Ebonyi State (Security) Neighbourhood Watch on duty at the Afikpo Beach, in the Afikpo North Local Government Area of the state and were eventually moved to the ministry’s office in Abakaliki, the state capital.
The commissioner said one of the trailers was loaded with rice and empty cartons of beer to deceive any security agents the smugglers could run into.
He also announced that four persons were arrested and remanded in the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Abakaliki, in connection with the crime.
The commissioner who pointed out that the smugglers came into the state through the Afikpo River, which connected Ebonyi/Cross River states to Cameroon, lamented that hoodlums had through that means smuggled arms into the state in the name of rice importation.
He said, “Some people may not be seeing the security implication of importing rice into the state. The implication is that some people use this avenue to smuggle in arms. If you watch, they go by night and when you search the things in the truck, you will discover arms hidden under the bags of foreign rice.
“Hoodlums cannot operate without arms, and they carry more sophisticated weapons compared to what our security men have. Most of these arms and ammunition in circulation across the country were smuggled in through this means.”
According to Emegha, apart from the security threats the importation of foreign rice posed, it also had health implication, as the rice could have been preserved with dangerous chemicals for many years.
He further said before the Federal Government took the step to ban importation of foreign rice, the Ebonyi State Government had already placed a ban on the commodity in the state, stressing that his ministry was poised to rid the state of foreign rice “because Ebonyi has better rice.”