Senate overrules Customs on rice import through land border

The Senate has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Nigeria Customs Service to suspend the lifting of ban on the importation rice through the land borders.

In October, Customs Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali announced that the federal government‎ was lifting the ban on rice importation through the land borders to shore up revenue and to forestall smuggling of the commodity into the country.

Following the lifting of the ban, the Senate‎ had summoned the Customs CG to explain the reason for the action.

But yesterday, the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on‎ import duty waivers, concessions and grants, chaired by Adamu Aliero (Kebbi central), submitted its report after a probe of the policy.

It recommended that the upper legislative chamber asks the federal government to suspend the policy on the grounds that it would escalate rice smuggling into the country, adding that Customs lacked the capacity to monitor and control the flow of goods through the land borders.

The Senate adopted the recommendation calling on the government to suspend the policy.

On his part, Senate President Bukola Saraki said, “I don’t think we should look at this issue from any sentiment but from logic. My view is that I don’t think anybody is convinced why anybody will go through the borders to incur extra cost‎ unless there is an intention to defraud government. I think as of now this process of going through the land borders does not do that.

“We must support our local farmers. We strongly advise the Customs to suspend the lifting of the ban on importation of rice through the land borders and continue to operate through the sea borders.”

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