Buhari orders Customs to release seized rice, others to IDPs

President Muhammudu Buhari has directed the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to transfer relief items in various customs warehouses to designated officials for onward distribution to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East.

The service Public Relations Officer, Wale Adeniyi, disclosed this in an interview in Abuja on Sunday.

According to Adeniyi, the Comptroller General has set up a national committee that would coordinate and manage the movement and the transfer of sized relief items to give effect to the President’s directive.

He said the relief items currently in government warehouses for distribution to the IDPs included goods that had been forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“President Muhammudu Buhari has directed the Nigeria Customs Service to move and transfer relief items in various customs warehouses to relevant officials for use by IDPs.

“And to give effect to the directive, the Comptroller General of Customs has set up a national committee that would coordinate and manage the movement and the transfer of these sized relief items directly to the IDPs.

“It is important to stress that these items are only those that have been condemned properly in the competent court of law and have been forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“They include food items like rice, vegetable oil, spaghetti and essential items like soap, used clothing materials, mosquito nets, beddings and others,” he said.

Adeniyi said that members of the committee were drawn from Customs, Army, Air Force, Police, Immigration and the EFCC.

According to him, the customs boss also included some NGOs, civil society organisations and the media to give the committee a measure of transparency and credibility. Adeniyi said that customs had taken an initial step to determine the locations of the IDP camps.

He said that the service had thought that IDP camps were only in Borno and Adamawa states, but discovered that there were over 20 of such camps.

However, he said that the distribution of relief items to the IDPs would slightly be different from the previous ones the service had done.

“This time around, our targets are not the IDPs camps; our targets are the IDPs themselves who are in these camps,” he said.

He said that the service would go beyond the IDPs camps to communities and villages where Nigerians had been displaced.

Adeniyi said that the service learnt that some of the IDPs were returning to their communities and these IDPs also lacked the essential relief items.

“We expect that the exercise will take a period of about eight weeks and the trip will start very soon.

“The exercise is going to be slightly different from what we have been doing before because we want these things to end up directly with the end users.

“We are going to be working with state governments, community leaders and other relief agencies to ensure that these items get to the IDPs in a secure and transparent manner,” Adeniyi assured. 

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