THE Federal Operations Unit, Zone A of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has raised an alarm on the increase in rice smuggling in the country, which has been evident in the high numbers of the commodity intercepted by its officials ahead of the celebration of the conclusion of the month of Ramadan.
This is even as the Unit said it impounded contraband worth N1,405,079,086 between 16th of May to 12th of June, 2018.
Addressing newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday, the Customs Area Controller of the Unit, Capt. Mohammed Uba stated that between last month and now, there is an increase in the numbers of snuggles rice intercepted by Customs officials.
According to Mohammed Uba, “Last month, before 16th of May, we intercepted nine trailers of smuggled bags of rice. Between that time and now, we have intercepted 15 trailers of smuggles bags of rice.
“You know during the festive period, the concentration on a particular food makes its availability in large quantity compulsory. Because we know these things happen majorly during the festive period, we also widen our tentacles to ensure such food item is not brought in illegally into the country.”
The value of what has been intercepted thus far, the Unit Controller added that “Between 16th of May to 12th of June, 2018, we have intercepted and seized various contraband goods and vehicles with a duty paid the value of N1,345,572,313. Similarly, the Unit recovered N59,506,773.25 from underpayments, thereby making a cumulative of N1,405,079,086 within the period under review.
“The detained/seized items include 15 exotic vehicles including three Toyota C-HR 2018 models, One Toyota Camry LE 2018 model, one Toyota Prado 2018 model, one Toyota Hilux 2017 model, one Ford F150 2017 model, one Pajero jeep 2017 model among others.
” Other seizures are 15 trailer loads of foreign parboiled rice (9,049 bags), 1,464 cartons of frozen poultry products, 870 jerrycans of vegetable oil, 592 pieces of used tyres among others.
“Also, four containers with numbers PCIU850134/9, PCIU8278544, FCIU983753 and TGHU6924330 were all seized for false declaration.
” A total of 12 suspects have been arrested in connection to these 112 seizures.
“In order to ensure full implementation of the Federal Government policy banning importation of rice through the land borders, and following headquarters directive, we re-strategised our operational modalities and beamed our searchlight at the creeks and waterside, including various locations in the South-West zone, hence the reason for the massive seizure recorded within the period under review.”