The Nigerian Customs Service, (NCS) has said that it closed six warehouses in Lagos where smuggled rice is being re-bagged.
The Customs Controller, Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja, Comptroller Mamudu Haruna who gave the hint however, cautioned member of the public against patronising smuggled expired rice to avoid health hazards.
According to him, the decision to clamp down on illegal re-bagging of rice was part of the FOU’s efforts at curbing smuggling of the commodity.
He said, “To this end, about six warehouses in Lagos that have contravened the laws are under customs seal and pending thorough investigation.”
Haruna noted that most rice smuggled through Idiroko, Seme, Jibia and other border stations had expired.
He explained that one of the sealed warehouses contained 23,000 bags of rice and 44,000 empty bags for re-bagging.
He informed that a cement company’s vehicle which contained both cement and smuggled rice has also been detained.
He said between October and November, the unit intercepted various contraband with a Duty Paid Value of N325.53m.
According to him, the unit also recovered N286.62m from duty payments and demand notices on vehicles and other general goods that tried to beat the system from seaports, airports and border stations.
He said, “In the guise of false declaration, transfer of value and shortchange in duty payment that are meant for the Federal Government. Making a cumulative of N611.67m in the months of October and November 2016.
“In the months under review, 210 different seizures were recorded comprising vegetable oil, foreign parboiled rice, frozen poultry products, smuggled vehicles, Indian hemp and various general merchandise.”
Haruna revealed that 77 suspects were apprehended, out of which 17 suspects had already been charged to court for prosecution and four suspects had been convicted but on Appeal at the Appeal Court, Lagos.
He said that other suspects, mostly drivers, not culpable had been released on bail, while 1,300 parcels of Indian hemp with three suspects had also been handed over to Lagos State Command of National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for prosecution to serve as deterrent to other drug barons.
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