Fred Ezeh, Abuja
A Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Coalition for Positive Change Initiative, has raised alarm over plans by some “unpatriotic” Nigerians with the aid some foreign collaborators, to import 20 million tonnes of parboiled rice, frozen chicken and other contraband items into Nigeria through the land borders.
The Group accused neighbouring countries of aiding smuggling of the banned items, by deliberately not putting proactive measures to help curtail the activities of illegal smugglers of contraband goods into Nigeria.
Recall that the Federal Government recently banned the importation of rice, chicken, vegetable oil, and few other agricultural products, as well as a category of textile products.
Convener of the Coalition for Positive Change Initiative, Richard Oduma, told reporters in Abuja, on Monday, that the development amount to sabotage of government effort to empower local farmers through promoting locally produced foods.
He called on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to be vigilante so as to prevent the entry of such goods it alleged were mostly expired and unsafe for consumption.
He alleged: “As we speak, there are over 20 million tonnes of parboiled rice in Republic of Benin waiting to be smuggled into Nigeria.
“These are expired rice and agricultural products but Lebanese and Chinese businessmen repackaged them and are attempting to ship them to Nigeria through neighbouring countries.
“I make bold to say that Benin Republic with just about 12 million population have nothing to do with 20 million tonnes of parboiled rice. That clearly shows that it’s meant for Nigerian market.”
He encouraged Customs and other border officials to sustain the momentum for the sake of Nigerian farmers and the economy.
He added: “There is a serious revenue growth that is associated with the closure of the border. A lot of racketeering activities have been reduced, and government and Nigerians are the greatest beneficiary.”