No N117bn rice scam petition before Senate yet —Anyanwu

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, said yesterday that the upper chamber had yet to receive any petition on the alleged importation of rice worth N117billion through unconventional routes by rice farmers.

An ad-hoc committee of the red chamber, saddled with the responsibility of investigating the N30bn lost to the rice import waiver granted by the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration, had two weeks ago submitted its report.

However, just as the senators were preparing to consider the report of the committee’s findings, a news report last week alleged another high-level fraud in the business, involving licensed rice importers.

The report specifically alleged that the rice smuggling scam which might have made the country to lose about N117billion, was perpetrated by members of the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria, who smuggled the rice because of their inability to meet their local production quota.

But Anyanwu yesterday denied knowledge of any formal petition on the issue even as he assured that necessary action would be taken by the Senate whenever its attention was officially drawn to it.

Some stakeholders in the rice industry chain were alleged to have sabotaged the rice policy initiated by Jonathan to boost local production of the commodity in order to sustain their business interests.

The allegation was that the affected companies who were granted licenses to import specific volumes of rice in order to make up for the shortfall in their local production quota as a result of natural disasters witnessed in the country, abused the process by engaging in large scale smuggling.

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