Senate summons Customs’ CG over rice importation through land border

The Senate has summoned the Nigeria Customs Service Comptroller-General, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), to appear and brief it on issues surrounding the removal of rice from the import restriction through the land border.

It directed that Ali should interact with its Ad hoc Committee on Import Duty Waiver.

The decision to invite the Customs boss followed a motion by Senator Adamu Aliero (APC- Kebbi Central), which was supported by 32 other senators.

Moving the motion, Aliero expressed concern about the “unilateral and unexpected” decision of the comptroller-general to reopen the country’s land borders to rice importers.

He said the action would reverse the gains recorded in rice production in the country.

According to Aliero, the decision would halt the rice revolution and discourage further investment in rice farming and agro-allied industries.

He added that the decision of the Customs to liberalise the importation of rice to the extent of lifting the ban on land importation of the commodity, would escalate rice smuggling.

“Nigeria is presently the largest importer of rice in the world,” he said, regretting that this was in spite of 15 new rice mills established across the country by private investors between 2010 and 2015.

The senator said the mills, besides striving to provide the commodity to the people, had provided employment to many Nigerians.

After a debate on the motion, which many senators supported, the matter was referred to the Committee on Import Duty Waiver.

President of the Senate Bukola Saraki decried the rate of illegal activities at the nation’s borders.

He said the motion was timely, given the need to reposition the economy to give investors the confidence to invest in the country.

The Senate president directed that the committee had two weeks to investigate the matter and submit its report.

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