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Customs alerts on expired rice from Seme border posts, denies plastic brand

Nigerians have been put red alert over stocked but expired Thailand and Indian rice piled up in several warehouse on Nigeria/Benin republic border town of Seme waiting for security breach by Customs and other security operatives for smugglers’ to ferry them in.

The hint was dropped by the Customs Controller, Federal Operations Unit (F.O.U.) Ikeja, Comptroller Mamudu Haruna, on Tuesday, when he noted that his command is yet to come across plastic brand of rice.

He noted that apart from those that have not find their way into the country, “most rice smuggled through Idiroko, Seme, Jibia and other border stations had expired”.

Haruna said the public should be very careful in patronising rice smugglers, adding that some of the expired rice had been impounded by officers and men of the service and kept in the warehouses.

It would be recalled that Federal Government had in April this year placed a total ban on importation of rice through the border stations.

Haruna said smuggling of rice had become so rampant that youths risked their lives on motorcycles carrying five to six bags each.

He said that other devices used included transporting between 35 to 50 bags in smaller trucks.

While giving antidote for curbing smuggling, Haruna said that the service had intensified operations at various bonded terminals and warehouses to ensure compliance with the extant laws.

He disclosed that “To this end, about six warehouses in Lagos that have contravened the laws are under customs seal and pending thorough investigation”.

The controller said that one of the sealed warehouses contained 23,000 bags of rice and 44,000 empty bags for re-bagging.

He also showed a detained cement company’s vehicle, (name withheld) containing both cement and rice but for smuggling rice.

Statistics rolled out by the FOU, Ikeja indicated that between October and November, the unit intercepted various contraband with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N325.53million.

He said the unit also recovered N286.62million from duty payments and demand notices on vehicles and other general goods that tried to beat the system from seaports, airports and border stations.

According to the controller, in the months under review, 210 different seizures were recorded comprising vegetable oil, foreign parboiled rice, frozen poultry products, smuggled vehicles, Indian hemp and various general merchandise.

He said that 77 suspects were apprehended, out of which 17 suspects had already been charged to court for prosecution and four suspects had been convicted but on Appeal at the Appeal Court, Lagos.