The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has denied Oyo State government an opportunity to return the 1,800 bags of rice the state claimed were not fit for human consumption.
Both Oyo government and the Oyo/Osun Command of NCS have been trading blame since last Friday over the bags of rice customs supplied to the state government as parts of federal government palliatives to the state.
The command had on Tuesday supplied 1,800 bags of rice to the state as part of efforts to cushion the effects of coronavirus on the people of the state.
Osun received 1,800 bags, Ekiti received 1,800 bags while Ondo received 600 bags of rice from the command.
However, three days after taking delivery of the rice, Oyo State government through the special adviser to the state Governor, Debo Akande, said the rice is not healthy for human consumption.
The minister of humanitarian affairs, Sadiya Farouq, was also dragged into the controversy when she said NAFDAC certified the rice as fit for consumption, a claim NAFDAC dismissed.
Customs on Sunday insisted the bags of rice that exited its Command headquarters in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital were in good condition.
Public Relations Officer of Oyo/Osun Command, Abdullahi Lagos, in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES had on Sunday insisted that the command was embarrassed to hear three days later, that the rice allocated to Oyo had weevils and were unfit for human consumption.
The Oyo government on Wednesday returned the controversial rice but the Customs officers shut the doors of the command on the officials of the state government.
Trucks loaded with the ‘expired’ rice were sent to Oyo/Osun Command in Ibadan, but the Customs officers refused to open its doors to the officials led by commissioner for agriculture, Ojemuyiwa Ojekunle.
Mr Ojekunle told PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday, that the state government wrote two separate letters to the agency to intimate it of plans to return the unhealthy rice “but was surprised men of the NCS barred the government from returning the rice.”
“They did not open the doors for us to enter. They said that they had not received order to collect back the rice.
“We wrote a letter to them on 24th April that we want to return the rice. We wrote another letter Wednesday morning before we load the rice that we want to return the rice. They shut the doors.
“They told us that they had not received order to collect back the rice. They did not allow us to enter,” he said.
But the public relations officer of Oyo/Osun NCS Command, Abdullahi Lagos, while reacting, insisted that “there is a procedure for the return of the rice which has not been perfected.”
He noted that the state government wrote an ‘unprofessional’ letter to the agency.
Mr Lagos in a telephone interview on Thursday said, “When they came, we politely told them that there is a procedure, there is a procedure from the headquarters. There is a process. There should be a process, we were very polite.
“In the letter they wrote on 24th April, they only copied us, in that kind of letter they did not expect us to act.
“The letter they wrote is unprofessional. We politely told them that they should go back because we have not been told to collect the rice back. We received order to distribute the rice and we (have to) wait for the order before we collect the rice back. We told them politely. We were very civil. We don’t manufacture rice.”
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