Lagos FOU Impound 12 Trailers of Rice, Expired Food Seasoning
…Bemoans Unhealthy Importations
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ Lagos intercepted 12 trailers of contraband rice and 201 cartons of expired food seasoning (Chicken cubes) among other unlawful items estimated at N537million for the month of July 2022.
Unit Acting Controller, Deputy Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu who disclosed above while briefing the press yesterday on his office on its activities for the month of July informed that nine suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures.
He bemoaned the recalcitrant nature of those engaged in acts of economic sabotage as overtly evil and unpatriotic; lamenting that the huge investments in misplaced and unlawful trade is also taking a tool on the nation’s scarce forex; made worse by the fact that some of this misplaced imports are not only dangerous for human consumption but equally inimical to the nation’s economy.
Giving the breakdown of the seizures, Ejibunu listed the seized items within the period under review to include 7,261 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice (equivalent to 12 trucks load), 600 bags of basmati rice (5kg each), 34,725 liters of petroleum motor spirit (PMS), 39 bales of used clothes and 225 pieces of used tyres.
Others are 331 cartons of frozen poultry, 6 units of used imported cars, 2,634 cartons of slippers/shoes, 900 pairs of used shoes and 42 units of used motorcycles among others.
He attributed the impressive performance and seizures made to the unit’s commitment at enforcing government’s laws and policies, noting that the ban on foreign rice, frozen poultry products and others on the prohibition list is aimed at safeguarding citizens health and the nation’s economy.
He said, “In furtherance to our commitment at enforcing government’s laws and policies, aimed at safeguarding the nation’s economy as well as its citizens’ health, this Unit had intercepted some goods that are of health and safety concerns.
“A misplaced priority as demonstrated in the use of hard-earned forex for the importation of expired seasonings (Chicken Cubes), used clothes, shoes and tyres is not only injurious to the economy, but also a despicable act by some desperate importers to make monetary gains at the detriment of other peoples’ health.
“Let me use this medium to remind you that poultry products remain a prohibited item under the import list, because of its attendant health and economic implications. It may interest you to know that the federal government in her wisdom banned the importation of poultry products so as to support the growth of our domestic poultry farms, and to protect them from foreign competition.
“Secondly, it was discovered that in the process of transporting these products, some hazardous chemicals are applied to help in preserving the products; since its frozen state of being cannot be sustained till it reaches the final consumers. This act calls for public concern as it could be a source of different ailments and diseases.
“Perhaps, there is no Nigerian family that has not been affected by either an accident caused by a substandard or used tyre, skin diseases or cancers, and many more; as a result of patronage to prohibited imported products into the country.”
He continues: “While we collectively sympathize with those that are affected by this menace, we are also calling on patriotic citizens to cooperate with the Customs Service and other law enforcement agencies to stamp it out.
“You may recall that, some weeks ago, Nigerians had to pay more for premium motor spirit (PMS) amidst scarcity. Despite the fact that the federal government had subsidized the product for local consumption, many Nigerians still passed through this hardship; partly because some unscrupulous citizens choose to satisfy their egoistic desires by smuggling the products into the Republic of Benin; some of which were along the border corridors,” he said.
The uncompromising economic crime buster said the unit is unremitting in carrying out meticulous checks on import documents, and ensured that any import found to have fallen short of the right duty is immediately issued demand notices (DN) through which the whooping recovery of N24.9million was recorded within the period under review.
“This amount would have been lost to some non-compliant importers/agents if not for the watchfulness and the uncompromising disposition of officers of the Unit. From the foregoing, it is evident that these dare devil smugglers are unrelenting in executing their unlawful and vile businesses.
“We are therefore soliciting for useful and timely information from patriotic Nigerians to enable us to tame smuggling”, adding:
“Compliant importers and agents are encouraged to sustain their compliance level, as the Unit and the Service remain resolute at facilitating legitimate trade.”