The Nigeria Customs Service has confiscated vehicles carrying bags of foreign rice along Kaduna, Zaria and Kano.
According to a NAN report, the assistant comptroller and commander, strike force of the command, Ekanem Wills, confirmed this on Monday while speaking to journalists in Kaduna about the smuggled rice.
“We were able to confiscate eight Golf wagons and three J5 vehicles conveying smuggled rice,” he said.
Mr. Wills further explained that each vehicle had about 40 to 45 bags of rice. He said while further investigations are ongoing, culprits have been apprehended.
He said government has provided the command with new vehicles for patrol, to enhance the capacity of the personnel in the efforts to end smuggling. He assured that the command was determined to seize all goods being smuggled into the country through its area of operation. He warned smugglers to find new legitimate means of livelihood.
This incident is coming weeks after the federal government says it will shut down the border between Nigeria and neighbouring countries to avoid smuggling of foreign rice into the country.
The minister of agriculture and rural development, Audu Ogbeh, made the disclosure while speaking to youth in a leadership clinic organised by Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI).
While Mr Ogbeh did not mention specifically which borders will be closed, he did emphasise the necessity to encourage local production and to sustain the economy of the country as the reason for this closure.
This instance is not the first time the Minister of Agriculture has threatened to shut down the border to discourage smuggling and encourage local production. According to another report by NAN in May 2017, he made a similar statement while speaking to journalists about the achievements of the federal government in the agriculture sector since 2015.
Mr Ogbeh in his statements to the press said the decision had become necessary to encourage local rice farmers and to enable the country achieve self-sufficiency in rice by 2018.
“We believe they are determined to sabotage the efforts that we are making to guarantee self-sufficiency in rice and to save foreign exchange which we don’t have, they insist on bringing in rice through the land borders, avoiding the duties and the levies we put on them and they are definitely bent on sabotaging our efforts and we are getting increasingly unhappy with them. And I must say that very soon, if they persist, we will take very nasty measures against them”.
The federal government has severally lauded its efforts in increasing local production of rice since it came into office since 2015 and has set a 2020 goal for Nigeria hitting self-sufficiency in rice production.