The Federal Operations Unit Zone A Lagos of the Nigeria Customs Service has impounded a Dangote Group truck with hundreds of bags of rice concealed with cement. This is even as it alerted Nigerians on the dangers of consuming “expired” and “poisonous” rice smuggled into the country through the land borders.
The unit said it had also sealed up six warehouses for various infractions with one of the warehouses having 23, 000 bags of rice hidden inside.
Controller of the unit, Comptroller Haruna Mamud who took journalists round the seized items at the Customs warehouse in Ikeja, Lagos, yesterday said the truck was impounded at Papalanto area of Ogun State.
He said a suspect has been arrested in connection with the seizure while investigation is ongoing.
The Customs boss decried the various tricks, which rice smugglers devise to push the commodity into the Nigerian market.
“Every available means is used to smuggle rice. You can imagine people mixing cement and rice and taking it to the market for sale. That is poison. So let all of us make it our responsibility to join hands so that we can track these smugglers.
“We have been getting seizures of rice through various means not only through Dangote. We have some even through tankers that are supposed to be for fuel. We have different forms of concealment being used to carry rice. Some dare devil Nigerians bring these things to Cotonou through a whole ship and allow our youths to ferry these things using motorcycles,” he said.
Mamud said the unit within October and November intercepted other various contrabands with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of over N325million in addition to N286.6million recovered from duty payment and demand notices on vehicles and other general goods “that tried to beat the system in the guise of false declaration and short change in duty payment”.
He added that about 210 seizures were recorded comprising vegetable oil, frozen poultry products, vehicles, Indian hemp and general merchandise.
He gave a breakdown of the seized items to include 13,678 bags of 50kg rice with a DPV of N88.9million; 12,007 cartons of frozen poultry with a DPV of N64.8million; 668 Jerry can of vegetable oil with a DPV of N5million and a unit of vehicle with a DPV of N1.2million.
Others are general merchandise including new and used textiles, foot wears, used tyres, soap, compressors with a DPV of N103million and Indian hemp with a DPV of N62million.
He said a total of 77 suspects were also apprehended within the review period out of which 17 suspects have been charged to court while four have been convicted.
He advised smugglers who see the yuletide season as a period to carry out their nefarious activities to desist from such illegal business warning that the unit has devised other tactical strategies that will make them count their losses.
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