‘N9.7b rice smuggled into Nigeria monthly’

About 1.6 million bags of rice worth N9.7 billion are smuggled into the country monthly from Benin Republic, a group, Trans-Border Traders Association of Nigeria (TBTA), has said.
It appealed to the Federal Government to lift the ban on the importation of the commodity through land borders.
National Coordinator of the association, Alhaji Mikky Okunola, said the ban has impacted negatively on investors and the government’s initiatives to encourage local rice production.In 2011, the Federal Government, in its determination to block revenue loopholes, banned the importation of rice through land borders.

Okunola said if rice was allowed through the seaports only, it would be available at reasonable prices. And no one would evade duties and levies.
He said genuine importers were required to pay duties and levies, which those engaged in smuggling evade. According to him, this makes smugglers to sell at market price and make excessive profit, or slightly below the market price to undercut honest importers.
He urged President Goodluck Jonathan to lift the ban on rice importation through land borders to reduce smuggling.