The decision of the Oyo State government to return about 1,800 bags of rice donated by the Federal Government to cushion the effect of COVID-19 lockdown and stay-at-home order has sparked controversy between the state and Customs.
Executive Adviser to Oyo Governor on Agribusiness, Dr. Debo Akande, said the decision to return the rice three days after its receipt was reached after series of inspections done by the food security committee of the COVID-19 task force had found the rice to be infested by weevils and other pests and unhealthy for human consumption.
Akande said the government took the decision in the interest of the health of residents of the state.
The government of Oyo State yesterday, insisted, it rejected the 1,800 bags of rice meant as Covid-19 palliatives by the Nigerian Customs Service because they were truly bad and unfit for consumption.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, who equally serves as a member of the Covid-19 Task Force, indicated that any claims to the contrary was a disservice to humanity and attempt at endangering the lives of the people in the state.
“No government that is worth its name would agree to serve its people with food items that are infested with weevils that are clearly visible to the eyes,” the statement read.
But the Oyo/Osun Command of Customs denied the allegation, saying it suspected foul play on the part of the handlers of the allocated rice.
A statement by the the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Abdullahi Lagos Abiola, yesterday, said Customs did not distribute weevil infested and unwholesome rice to Oyo State.
Abiola listed officials of Oyo State government, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management and the media as witnesses to the evacuation process where no trace of weevils were found in the rice as being alleged.
He expressed surprise that rice which left the Command in good condition suddenly became toxic just three days after being delivered to Oyo State.
Abiola said aside from Oyo, other states like Osun and Ekiti who took delivery of their allocated rice did not complain about the quality of rice they received.
Comptroller General of NCS, Col. Hammed Ali (retd) had warned that most foreign par-boiled rice were poisonous with harmful preservatives even as he lamented that some bags of rice had expired and were re-bagged on the high seas.