NCS Intensifies Onslaught Against Smugglers, Impounds 33,597 Rice Bags
In the aftermath of a special report done by Economic Confidential, a sister publication of PRNigeria, on rice smuggling into the country, officials of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, have impounded no fewer than 33,597 bags of foreign rice.
The bags of rice bags were confiscated between January and April 2023 in 481 seizure operations carried out by Customs personnel across the country.
Recalled that Economic Confidential, in a report published early last month and titled: “REVEALED: How Illicit Rice Importation is Threatening FG’s Agricultural Sector Interventions,” said that despite strict measures imposed by the federal government, foreign rice mainly from Thailand and India continued to find their way into Nigerian markets through Benin and Niger Republic.
They were being illicitly imported through smuggling activities, the report noted.
Also Read: RIPAN and Burden of Tackling Rice Smuggling, by Abdulsalam Mahmud
Part of the Economic Confidential story added that, “Despite concrete and visible interventions of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) via the Anchors Borrowers Programme (ABP) on the rice sub-sector of the Nigerian economy, the previous investigation by Economic Confidential in 2019 indicated that over 70% of rice in Nigerian markets was foreign.
“In the same vein, a recent survey conducted by Economic Confidential also showed that foreign rice still floods into Nigerian markets, a development which on the other hand undermines the demands and value of the locally-produced rice in the country”.
However, the spokesperson of the Customs Service, CSC Abdullahi Aliyu Maiwada, told Economic Confidential that the anti-smuggling battle is sustained with vigour
Maiwada added that the recent statistics proved the unrelentlessness of the service in curtailing the nefarious activities of rice smugglers.
“A summary of the rice seizure done by the NCS personnel between January 1 and April 2023 indicates that 33,597 bags worth N1.5bn were impounded in the period under review, from 481 anti-smuggling raids.
“In January, for instance, Customs officials impounded 11,029 rice bags in 162 operations, while in February 12,239 bags were seized in 172 raids.
“The NCS anti-smuggling operatives succeeded in seizing 3,744 bagsin 72 raids in March while 6,585 bags in 75 raids were conducted in April 2023.
“Though we don’t make unnecessary noises, we are nevertheless making tremendous progress in our various operations not only at the borders but also in major markets
“I strongly believe relevant stakeholders in the sector, especially Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), can also testify to our efforts,” Maiwada concluded.