Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara zone has intercepted 506 bags of foreign rice concealed in bags of beans and smuggled into the country.

This alone would have earned Nigeria about 12.5 million naira in payable duty.

The command’s Controller, Mr Nasir Ahmad, speaking in Sokoto on Wednesday, said that the items were intercepted on Friday by officers of the command on patrol along Sokoto-Illela road.

This was because the command had competent intelligent officers, investigating specialised activities.

Rice remains big business in Nigeria because of its high rate of consumption by citizens and smugglers have deployed different tactics in perpetrating their illegal businesses to ‘help’ meet demand.

“The present case is different as smugglers packaged two bags of rice in bigger beans bag disguising that they were conveying beans in the truck,” Ahmad said.

Not only does Nigeria lose revenue through the smuggling, the importation also affects the viability of local production of rice.

But the Customs Service has reassured the public of its readiness to confront smuggling and enforce government regulations.

Mr Nasir Ahmad called on people residing in border communities to assist Customs authorities with useful information to combat smuggling of goods into the country.

According to him, smugglers are using various structures, including residential buildings, to store smuggled items in peace-meal before uploading to a truck.

Nigerians need to be aware that smuggling is crippling the nation’s economy as it deprives it of revenue, cripples industrial growth, endangers population and increases employment.

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