By Seun Ibiyemi
The Nigeria Customs Service has announced the seizure of 33 containers of smuggled foreign rice marked as Nigerian brands in Tincan Island Port of Lagos.
The Controller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali , who announced the seizure to newsmen in Lagos disclosed that most of the seized rice expired in 2018 and it worth N2.7 billion in market value.
He added that an additional 21 containers comprising used tyres, vegetable oil, used clothing and unregistered pharmaceutical products were among seizures made
Ali said the seizures are valued at N2.7billionn and they contravened provisions of Customs and Excise Management Act Cap C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, Sections 46 and 161.
He added that the partial closure of land borders may have forced rice smugglers to consider attempting using the ports
“According to him “Specifically, we are aware that the partial closure of the land borders have resulted in the diversion of some cargoes back to our seaports.
“While we welcome this development which no doubt will boost our revenue, improve our trade facts and figures and sustain our diversification efforts,
“Realising that there may be possible backslash to the closure of the land borders , I directed all seaports and airports to beef up their surveillance and intercept any illicit and prohibited consignment for which attempt for their smuggling may be made through these entry points.
“This decision was made considering that those consignments may have been paid for and the importers will devise means to ensure they are delivered to their warehouses in Nigeria
“One significant finding about this seizure is that all the rice is expired or about to expire. Also remarkable is the seizure of tramadol variants and unregistered performance-enhancing drugs among the pharmaceutical.
“Recall that in the past, the service has raised alarm and drew the attention of the general public to the fact that most of the imported rice BUSINis expired.
The Customs boss added that efforts are on to arrest the persons behind the smuggling act going by the various addresses on the bags of rice and contacts on importation documents