Customs Moves To Raid Warehouses With Foreign Rice In Southwest

Following the massive importation of contraband, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) yesterday ordered that warehouses and markets stacked with smuggled rice across the South-West should be raided. Its Comptroller General, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd), who gave the directive, said that the move was part of measures to get rid of smuggled foreign parboiled rice and to boost local production of rice in the country.

Already, no fewer than 1,930 bags of 50kg smuggled rice had been evacuated from various warehouses in Lagos and Ogun states by the Service’s Strike Force, Zone A, Lagos. Coordinator, Comptroller General of Customs (CGC)’s Strike Force, Ahmadu Bello Shuaibu, a deputy comptroller, lamented the high rate of contraband that were falsely declared as machinery to evade Customs duty.

He explained that through imposition of levy, the unit generated N708 million in the last two weeks. Shuaibu stressed that 1,227 rolls of chiffon textiles materials, 18 pallets of perfumes, cosmetics, bags, 2,064 cartons of electric bulbs and 1,810 cartons of alcoholic and non-alcoholic wines were seized, saying that they would be forfeited to the Federal Government.

He said: “1,930 bags of 50kg of foreign parboiled rice have been seized in two weeks. This is to ensure that the country is rid of smuggled foreign parboiled rice as we have instructions of the Comptroller General of Customs that markets and warehouses of smugglers should be raided and smuggled rice evacuated.”

He noted that due to the heat from the unit, smugglers had found it difficult to move smuggled foreign rice from the border in large quality but in batches through motorcycles, adding that the service had restricted them and stopped their operations.

The coordinator said: “We have various degrees of infractions on cargoes that were seized. Cargoes such as perfumes, non-alcoholic wines, electric bulbs, foot wears, bags and shoes that were falsely declared as machineries and washing machines.

“Perfumes, non-alcoholic wines, electric bulbs, textiles are dutiable, but foreign foot wears, bags are banned because we have factories investing heavily and employing Nigerians to produce them. So, we must encourage them to do more and must not discourage them through importation of those items into the country.

“We are still appealing to our stakeholders that they should work hand in hand to ensure proper declaration. Perfume is dutiable, but once it is falsely declared, it is liable to seizure. Also, non-alcoholic wines are liable to seizure.

We have factories that produce wines, so we should patronise them to boost the economy.” On why importers preferred false declaration of cargoes, Shuaibu said that importers of machinery pay five per cent customs duty and were not levied, while other luxury goods like perfumes, non-alcoholic wines had high Customs duty with import levy.