The Nigeria Customs Service has warned Nigerians to be wary of the consumption of contaminated rice that could be illegally smuggled into the country through neighbouring African countries.
The area comptroller Oyo/Oshun command of Customs, Richard Oteri, who gave the warning at the headquarters of the command in Ibadan on Saturday, told Channels Television exclusively that some of the rice seized from smugglers by his team were not good for consumption.
While disclosing the large seizure that was made along the Iseyin/Saki axis of Oyo State, the area comptroller advised consumers to check rice properly in the market before purchase, as some of the contaminated ones could be re-bagged and sold to Nigerians.
Oteri pointed out that smugglers may use the festive season to perpetuate their nefarious activities and bring in contraband goods, but he stressed that the command was “ready to make sure they do not succeed”.
A total of 1,300 bags of 50kg rice with a duty paid value of 16 million Naira were seized by the crack team led by Alajogun Joseph.
Oteri further stated that the importation of rice through Nigeria’s sea ports was the only allowed form of importation. “All those importers who bring in rice through neighbouring African countries will continue to be treated as smugglers with the full weight of the law bearing on them,” he said..
A total of 15,485 bags of 50kg rice with a duty paid value of approximately 173million Naira have been seized by the Oyo /Osun Area Command of Customs in the past one year as a result of intensified heat on illegal importation of rice into the 2 states.
Making this disclosure in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, Oyo/Osun Area Comptroller of Customs, Richard Oteri, several unscrupulous Nigerians have resolved to make smuggling their tasks in life despite its attendant risks to the lives of individuals and the economy of the country at large.
Oteri added that the command was poised to make the business as unprofitable as possible for those who refuse to heed repeated government warning on smuggling.
The latest seizure of the command included 9 buses fully loaded with 481 bags of 50kg rice, fairly used cars, fabrics, and among other items.
Seizures and offloading of carefully concealed rice has become a common scene at the headquarters of Oyo/Osun Area Command of the Customs in Ibadan the Oyo State capital. Between March 2013 and March 2014 alone, almost 16,000 bags of 50kg rice have been intercepted, with the duty paid value put at about 173 million Naira.
Oteri disclosed that the smugglers get more crafty by the day, concealing rice with items like charcoal, yam flour, saw dust, yams, cassava waste and other dairy products.
He added that the Comptroller-General of Customs remains resolute in his commitment to fully implement the rice import policy and warned Nigerians who patronise neighbouring African ports instead of the nation’s sea sorts for smuggling purposes to desist from the act or lose their investment.