Is the Nigerian Customs Service your friend or foe?

It depends on who you are.

If you are a smuggler, then they are angry foes but for government, they are a reliable agent to help Nigeria achieve its long-term vision of self-sufficiency in rice production.

However, for Nigerians who were paying exorbitant prices for a 50Kg bag of rice, it may be difficult to understand where they stand.

On Sunday, a document obtained by News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, from NCS showed that the service has seized 497,279 bags of imported rice between 2015 and August 2017 with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of 3.8 billion naira.

According to the document, 90,073 bags of rice were seized in 2015 with DPV of 693 million naira while 280,109 bags of rice were impounded in 2016 with DPV of 2.156 billion naira.

The Comptroller General of the NCS, Hammed Ali was quoted in the document as saying that between January and August 2017, at least 127,097 bags of rice were seized with DPV of 978 million naira.

Also Read: Smugglers Arrested After Disguising As Mourners

“From January to March this year, about four enterprises registered with Tinapa Free Trade Zone (FTZ) Calabar in Cross River State syndicated the importation of 533 containers of rice,” Ali started.

He said the containers loaded with 299,564 bags of rice were brought into the free zone through Onne Port in Port Harcourt, Rivers.

“Certainly, this rice cannot be consumed within Tinapa and there is no value added through further processing as to bring it to Nigerian territory.

“It took the Nigeria Customs Service a big battle with the importers and Tinapa authorities to compel them to re-export it out of Nigeria.

“As at Sept. 19, this year, 299 containers were re-exported.

“If this is to be allowed, it has the potential of undermining the food security policy of the Federal Government.

“With the attendant consequence of driving all the industries in the chain of production out of business, primarily the local farmers and rice millers,” Ali explained.

Also Watch: The Prices Of Food Items In Nigeria As At August 29th 2017