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How Customs confuse, lie to Nigerians on rice smuggling statistics at borders

Fresh official complacency and reckless abuse of statistics on rice smuggling by top officials of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) at the Seme Border since the August 21st border closure made by the Controller, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’, Compt. Mohammed Aliyu may henceforth rob the agency of public trust and seriousness in fighting graft.

Compt Aliyu, while addressing Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) during their 47th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos recently, averred that Customs had prevented over two trillion bags of toxic rice from entering the country through the land border post, since the Federal Government shut the land borders on August 21st.

He told MAN leadership and members that “I was in charge of Seme border-post for one and half years. If I tell you what goes on there, you will be shocked to hear that. As of now, they have nothing less than 2 trillion bags of rice and that rice is coming to Nigeria and it is poisonous. If you challenge me, I can demonstrate it for you.”

However, when accosted by journalists who heard him make the statement of fact before MAN members, he withdrew his claims, saying he had exaggerated the figures as “the number of bags of rice prevented from entering the country was only in thousands and thousands.”

A fact check study conducted by Business Hilights Intelligence Unit (BHIU) on how what would happen if two trillion bags of rice could be trafficked into Nigeria showed amongst others that; first over three million trucks would be needed to convey the volume across the border; that if two trillion, according to him enter Nigeria in less than one month (August 21 to date), price of the commodity would crash to the barest minimum to the extent the smugglers’ would not have any gain to justify their illicit trade; that Customs officials at the border since he has left are not diligent in their duties to cause a total shut down otherwise; that by now and with the humongous figure, every Nigerian should have food security with at least 10,000 bags each for the 200 million Nigerians both young and old; and that reports of deaths and health challenges resulting from the two trillion toxic rice bags would have been unprecedented.

Analysts’ say when public officers in the rank of a Controller, Federal Operations Unit (FOU), give out such unsubstantiable figures laced with lies; it depicts deep corruption in the system and high level embarrassment on the collective intelligence of Nigerians and the Customs hierarchy.

Aggrieved observers further decried the kind of regards the international community which was well represented at the MAN’s AGM will begin to accord Nigerian Customs on coming to senses that on no account will up to two trillion bags of rice can be smuggled into Nigeria in less than one month.