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How Customs got clues leading to the seizure of 102 bags of plastic rice

More details Wednesday emerged on the factors considered by the eagle eyed surveillance team of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Ikeja Command in the interception of 102 bags of plastic rice branded “Best Tomato Rice”.

According to a top official of the Customs Command who exclusively spoke with Business Hilights on grounds of anonymity, “We got an intel that a brand of rice without marked country of origin, no batch number or date of production, no expiry date and only in 25kg bags that are not transparent is in Lagos and about to circulate”.

“This is only what I can tell you”, the officer concluded.

Under a closer look, our correspondent observed that unlike other brands which one can look through and possibly see the grains, ‘Best Tomato Rice’ is sight proof; an indication that something was wrong inside.

Examining the rice, Business Hilights noticed the following inscriptions: Best (in black and red colour mixture), Tomato Rice (all in red colour), five photos of tomatoes (red colour), 100 percent sortex (all black colour), American Style Rice (all black colour) and lastly, 25 KILOS NET (all black colour).

The other side of the bag was just blank as nothing was written on it, a clear strange presentation in rice packaging.

It would be recalled that the Customs Area Controller of FOU, Comptroller Mohammed Haruna, made the disclosure Tuesday, in an interview revealing that the commodity was stored for distribution as Yuletide gifts for the public.

Haruna said that officers of the unit intercepted the plastic rice along Ikeja area on Monday, adding that a suspect was arrested in connection with the seizure.

The FOU boss added that “Before now, I thought it was a rumour that the plastic rice is all over the country but with this seizure, I have been totally convinced that such rice exists.

“We have done the preliminary analysis on the plastic rice. After boiling, it was sticky and only God knows what would have happened if people consumed it.

“I advise those economic saboteurs who see yuletide season as a peak period for nefarious acts to desist from such illegal business.

“The unit has decided other operational modalities that will make them run for their monies and count their losses.”

Haruna described smuggling as a global phenomenon, adding that such act could not be curbed entirely but could be brought to its barest minimum.

The controller said the unit would hand over the plastic rice to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for further investigation.

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