From Bassey Anthony, Uyo

Insecurity fears deepened at the weekend when the National Task Force Against the Proliferation of Illegal Arms and Light Weapons said smugglers of rice and other contraband were also shipping dangerous weapons into Akwa Ibom State.

Before the new development, smugglers were largely suspected to be moving rice and  petroleum products into Akwa Ibom and other states of the federation, frequently concealing the consignments in all manner of containers.

Now, there is worry that the crooks are also ferrying in dangerous weapons.

NATFORCE commander in the state, Otobong Kiddy, who disclosed this to reporters at the weekend in Eket, decried the large number of illegal weapons in the hands of miscreants in the state.

Kiddy said NATFORCE in collaboration with the police, the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies, has started mopping up dangerous weapons across the 31 local government areas of the state

He said, “For now, our duty is to assist the Nigeria police and other security agencies to fish out those in possession of dangerous weapons.

“Just recently, a young man was shot at Ikot Udota here in Eket by miscreants who do not value human life just because they possess small arms. It is our duty to comb the secret places, especially areas where we suspect there are activities of cultists.”

Mr Kiddy said the group has been working closely with the police and the DSS in Eket, Esit Eket, Onna and other border towns in the state where smuggling activities are rife, stressing that NATFORCE will soon cover the entire state.

“We suspect that smugglers of rice and other contraband goods can smuggle light weapons into the country and we are on the lookout, using our trained boys on surveillance to ensure that they do not get away,” he said.

He called on parents to assist government dislodge cultism in the country by monitoring the activities of their children and the friends they keep.