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Customs raises alarm over killer rice in circulation

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Abiola Seun

The Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Ikeja, on Thursday, intercepted 12 trucks of foreign parboiled rice smuggled into the country from Benin Republic out of which over 1000 bags were poisonous.

Speaking during a press briefing in Lagos, the Acting Comptroller, FOU, Zone A, Hussein Ejibunu, who said the poisonous Simba foreign rice were made in India, shipped into Benin Republic and smuggled into Nigeria through the porous borders, disclosed that it intercepted 55,800 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) bound for Benin Republic.

According to him, the 12 trucks intercepted consist of 7,300 50kg out of which two trucks with 1000 bags were poisonous and dangerous to public health.

He, however, said laboratory analysis was conducted on the intercepted smuggled rice by the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and they confirmed that the rice contained lead which he said is poisonous to human health.

He said, “This Unit had seized 7,259 of 50 kg each bags of rice an equivalent of over 12 trucks load.

” Sequel to a laboratory test analysis on some of the previously seized foreign parboiled rice by the NAFDAC, one of the test parameters indicated some contents of lead -a soft heavy toxic malleable metallic element- in the tested rice; making it unfit for human consumption.

“Consequent upon this laboratory analysis on the foreign parboiled rice; as a responsible government agency, we are letting Nigerians know that apart from the negative economic impact of importing foreign rice into the country, some of these imported rice are unhealthy for human consumption.

“Thus, we advise consumers to desist from patronizing the federal government banned foreign parboiled rice. We as citizens have a collective responsibility to safeguard our economy and health for the benefit of all.”

Ejibunu, said the unit also intercepted 55,800 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), bale’s of textile materials, 156 cartons of frozen poultry among others.

He further stated that the unit raised Demand Notice (DN) in April, worth N112million while the contraband seized were valued at N533.1million.

“Notable among other seizures recorded within the month of April are, 55,800 litres of PMS, 73 bales of used clothes, 82 units of used fridges, 104 pieces of compressors, 143 bales of new textile, 1,264 pieces of used tyres.

Others are, “156 cartons of frozen poultry, 7,960 pairs of new shoes, 240 pieces of ladies purse, 93 cartons of tin tomato, 2 units of foreign used vehicles, 11 pieces of used rugs, with a cumulative duty paid value (DPV) of N533million. “A total of 12 suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures for committing various customs offences.”

“Following series of diligent documentary checks on some initially cleared cargoes, DN were raised to the sum of N111.8million, which was ultimately collected as revenue for the federal government.”

He stated that government placed restriction on importation of some products to protect local industries, as well as, public health.

“Apart from the federal government’s policies geared towards the protection of its local economy against foreign competitors, government in her wisdom prohibits goods like, used clothes, used fridges/compressors and used tyres among others; because of their attending effects on the security, health and the economy.

“Therefore, Nigerians are urged to acquaint themselves with the import prohibition list for compliance and to cooperate with the service to safeguard our country. We wish to thank our esteemed compliant importers, traders, as we assure them of our commitment to facilitate their genuine businesses.”

“We urge the recalcitrant traders to turn a new leaf by embracing legitimate trade, or face the consequences of their actions; because as a Unit, we are better mobilized by the service, organized and determined with a very high morale to do our job without fear or favour.”

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