The Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, of the Nigeria Customs Service said it intercepted 4,208 bags of smuggled foreign rice worth N55.3 million that was concealed with tubers of cassava, animal feed, soap and bottles of alcoholic products.
Controller of the Unit, Comptroller Muhammed Aliyu, who briefed newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday, said the unit also intercepted banned drugs and smuggled rice worth N85 million in a separate operation within the last three weeks.
Aliyu said the bags of rice were seized while the smugglers were trying to move them from Oyo State to Lagos.
According to him, due to the ongoing joint security operation at the land borders, smugglers are finding it difficult to smuggle rice into the country, and they have now resorted to moving the one already stored in the country.
He said since the launch of the joint military exercise at the borders, smuggling of rice and other contraband items have reduced drastically,
“The smuggled rice, drugs are not coming from the land border but within a week, the unit has intercepted 4,208 bags. That is to show you that rice smuggling is going down due to the activities at the borders.
“We have some rice stalled in villages that they are bringing out little by little because of the joint security operation at the border. Now, we see them concealing contraband with poisonous substances such as soap, animal feeds and even alcoholic drinks.
“For instance, this is a truck containing soap but when you go inside, it is not soap but was used for concealing rice. The truck contains 210 bags of smuggled rice but the soap is just a cover. I called you to see the means of concealment, the extent people can go to bring in contraband into the country.
“The other truck I showed you contained tubers of rotten cassava and yams to conceal rice. I also showed you soap, animal feeds and cartons of beer used to conceal rice. These are enough to get the rice poisoned and bad for human consumption,” he said.
Comptroller Aliyu warned corporate organisations to install trackers on their vehicles to prevent unscrupulous drivers from using the branded vehicles for rice smuggling.
“We have told the companies to put tracker on their trucks so that they can monitor movement but because they don’t do such, the drivers used it for nefarious activities. So the truck and contents are seizure because they are means of conveyance,” he said.
Some of the seized drugs with no NAFDAC numbers include 3,888 sachets of Bisoprolol Fumarate, 300 bottles of Lactulose, 600 sachets of Atorastattin, 2,000 bottles of Mandanol Nasal Drop and 10,800 sachets of Furossamide.
Others are 279 Dihydrocodeine, 744 Kenalog 40mg injection, 300 cartons of Lansoptazol, 560 sachets of Clopidogre, 1,764 Contiflo and 320 sachets of Meloxicam among others.