David Adekunle, Lagos
Nigeria Customs Service has announced the seizure of 33 containers of smuggled foreign rice marked as Nigerian brands in Tincan Island Port of Lagos.
Controller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali who announced the seizure to newsmen in Lagos said most of the seized rice had expired since 2018.
Colonel Ali said that additional 21 containers comprising used tyres, vegetable oil, used clothing and unregistered pharmaceutical products were among seizures made.
The Customs boss explained that the seizures were valued at N2,713,865,051 and they contravened provisions of Customs and Excise Management Act Cap C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, Sections 46 and 161.
He said the partial closure of land borders may have forced rice smugglers to consider attempting using the ports
”Specifically, we are aware that the partial closure of the land borders has 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,” he said.
Ali said the decision was made considering the fact that those consignments may have been paid for and the importers devise means to ensure they are delivered to their warehouses in Nigeria.
He said one significant finding about the seizure was that all the rice was 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 attention of the general public to the fact that most of the imported rice are expired”. he added
The Customs helmsman noted that efforts were on to arrest persons behind the smuggling act going by the various addresses on the bags of rice and contacts on importation documents.