Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi State has called on the Federal Government to engage the services of retired customs officers with integrity in order to check the rising cases of rice smuggling in the counrty.
Umahi, a member of the Presidential Taskforce on Rice and Wheat, who addressed newsmen on Friday in Abakaliki, expressed regret over the persistent incidences of rice smuggling in the country.
He advised the Federal Government to station the retired officers with integrity at the borders and install wireless Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras to monitor activities at the borders.
“I do not believe that the issue of smuggling is a problem, sometimes, the Federal Government doesn’t want to act.
“Install wireless CCTV in some of the border locations and constitute customs officials that have retired into committees to man the borders, they will do very well, it is a question of interest.’’
The governor called on the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to extend its enforcement drive to the markets to verify duties paid by rice importers.
“With the argument of whether we produce enough rice to meet our demands, the Zero Hunger and Presidential Task Force on Rice, was being lobbied to allow importation of certain percentage.
“They said that there is no rice in the state but we said no.
“We suggested that the security agents should go round the rice milling locations and find out whether there was any day that there were more customers than supplies.
“Since then, nobody has been able to prove that, and this means that what we produce is able to feed and sustain the nation.
“I call for a complete stoppage of foreign rice importation into the country,’’ the governor added.
Umahi, who described foreign rice as `chaff’, expressed regret over the increasing rate of kidney and liver diseases in the county.
The governor advised citizens to stop the consumption of foreign rice as it was detrimental to health.