The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Thursday said it has intercepted 1,879 bags of foreign rice illegally smuggled into the country through Niger, Kogi, and Kwara states.
The Customs Area Controller in charge of Kogi and Niger states, Yusuf Abba-Kassim, told journalists at a press briefing in Minna, Niger State, that all the seizures were in October.
The federal government had in August announced the temporary closure of all Nigerian land borders.
Mr Abba-Kassim said the command also intercepted eight cars being smuggled into the country by suspected smugglers in his zone.
“In keeping to this promise the Command initiated new anti-smuggling strategies which led to remarkable exploits evidenced in the seizures on display today which include.
“One DAF diesel tanker (six tyres) with registration number RBC-05 ZS suspected to be concealing imported foreign rice which is yet to be examined.
“One DAF truck (ten tyres) with registration number MNA 893 XV loaded with Nine hundred and Fifty (950) 50kg bags of imported rice.
“Nine bales of used clothing (Second hand). Four (4) Toyota Corolla conveying cumulatively a total of One hundred and Thirty-Five (135) 50kg imported bags of rice.
“Three hundred and Ninety-Seven (397) 50kg imported bags of rice hidden within the forest by smugglers. Two (2) Toyota Rav4. Four (4) Toyota Corolla. One (1) Peugeot 207. One (1) Mazda Premacy.
“The above seizures were made at different locations within the Command’s area of coverage all in the month of October 2019.
Mr Abba-Kassim said it is worrisome that some Nigerians have remained unrepentant even as they continued to lose.
”Not even the Federal Government’s visible efforts in transforming the agricultural sector, especially in the area of rice production as well as the increased prevalence of expired imported rice with its hazardous health implications have touched their conscience to avoid rice smuggling,” he said.
“The arrest of a diesel tanker meant for conveying diesel now used in concealing smuggled imported foreign rice should send a serious signal to these recalcitrant saboteurs of the Nigerian economy that there is no hiding place. We are determined to beat all their concealment patterns with our superior intelligence network.
“I want to use this opportunity to inform members of the public that the Kwara State axis of the Command has been given full autonomy since July 4th 2019 to be a Command separated from Niger/Kwara/Kogi and we will henceforth be called and addressed as Nigeria Customs Service Niger/Kogi Command.
“It is also worthy of note that the Command within the third quarter (July-September) of the year made a remarkable seizure of 3,529 50kg imported bags of rice with duty paid value of N62,159,700, Twenty-Nine (29) used vehicles with duty paid value of N32,333,500 and One thousand, Eighteen (1018) bales of Second-hand clothing with duty paid value of N48,912,000.”