According to reports, the Command Area Comptroller, CAC, Udo-Aka Emmanuel of the Oyo/Osun Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has paraded a truck and six mazda buses loaded with smuggled rice and kegs of foreign vegetable oil along Iseyin-Oyo Road and other border points in Oyo State.
Udo-Aka who supervised the counting of the smuggled items said that a total of 853 bags of 50kg rice and 395 kegs of 25litres vegetable oil valued at hundreds of millions naira were seized during two different operations.
Udo-Aka said that while the duty paid value, DPV, on the rice is N14, 603,306, the DPV on the vegetable oil is N3, 076,159 stressing that the federal government ban on rice is still valid.
The Customs boss, however, noted that no suspect was arrested yet as the drivers and conductors abandoned the vehicles and ran away on sensing that they have been trapped by the patrol team.
Udo-Aka while appealing to the media to help sensitise the members of the public on the implication of the menace of smuggling stated that smuggling does not only affect the economy but put the health of the people at risk.
Giving a breakdown of the figures of the items, the CAC said the 12-tyre DAF truck with registration number MUS 203 XL had 600 bags while the Mazda buses with registration numbers XB 330 GBH; XF 571 NRK; RLG 123 XA and KJA 701 XJ were loaded with 200 bags each.
According to him, “the smugglers took advantage of the recent mass deployment of officers and men in Nigeria Customs Service to indulge in their unwholesome activities with the belief that we will be caught off guard. We will continue to reiterate our stand on zero tolerance for revenue leakage and reduction of smuggling to the barest minimum by bringing the economic saboteurs to book and face the long arm of the law.
“Our resolve to rid this axis of recalcitrant and unpatriotic Nigerians who engage in nefarious activities is a bond we must keep. The ban on importation of rice by the Federal Government through the land borders in order to transform and improve our agriculture sector is still in place, and Customs is committed to implementing this Federal Government policy to the letter”.
“These seized bags of rice have been stored in a warehouse in the Benin Republic without proper pest control, making them prone to all manner of pests. We should also understand that most of these smuggled products have exceeded their shelf life and therefore expired and are not safe for consumption. Yet they are re-bagged and relabeled and dumped in our country.
“We also know that as long as smuggling thrives, our economy will never pick up; our industries will do well if smuggling is checked. Smuggling kills the economy but enriches the smuggler. We appeal to well-meaningful citizens of Nigeria to willingly assist in volunteering information about the smugglers, their agents and collaborators, and we promise to treat any given information with utmost confidentiality,” he added.