The Nigerian Minister of Finance, Mrs, Kemi Adeosun says the Government has approved the sum of N1.12 billion to purchase 50 operational vehicles for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) task force to tackle rice smuggling in the country.
Adeosun said the vehicles which would assist the task force in halting rice smuggling through the land borders, would also bring an end to the constant raiding of markets by custom officials in a bid to seize smuggled rice, which had resulted in the harassment of traders. “The second approval was for the purchase of 50 vehicles and they are going to be deployed for an anti-rice smuggling Task Force that is being put together which Customs will be leading,” said Adeosun who was briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja.
She said Nigeria is currently producing enough rice, resulting in a 90 per cent reduction in the official import of rice.
The minister lamented that smuggling had however increased, hence the need to protect local farmers and their investments.
She disclosed that the multi-agency task force, operational since July 2017 had been gathering information on ways of tackling rice smuggling into the country.
Available records show that more than 100,000 bags of smuggled rice were seized last year by the anti-rice smuggling task force across the country.