Uche Usim, Abuja
Operatives of the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service Special Strike Force, have seized 5,448 bags of 50kg foreign rice in the last seven days.
While 1,248 bags were seized within the creeks often Ogun State, last Monday, 4,200 bags were seized in Mopa, Kogi State last Saturday.
The team also arrested there suspects who drove the trucks carrying the smuggled rice. Briefing journalists, in Abuja, on Monday, the National Coordinator of the CGC Strike Force, Abdullahi Kirawa, a Deputy Controller of Customs, said the seizures were fruits of an enduring collaboration with the Police, Department of State Security (DSS), Customs Intelligence Unit, the military and other stakeholders.
According to him, the Mopa seizure was successful as a result of intelligence gathering and processing, stressing that the Task Force remains resolute in prosecuting the war against smuggling.
He also said arrested suspects were being interrogated so as to get to the importers who brought in the foreign rice which has been banned from being imported via land borders.
Kirawa said they would be charged to court once the investigation was over.
He said, “We gathered that this current consignment came in through the land border. They moved through ilorin, but we arrested the smugglers at Mopa village.
“There are seven trucks we impounded. Each is loaded with at least 600 bags of 50 kg rice. That is a total of 4,200 bags.
“However, we are enjoying the support of the Customs management in fighting smugglers. We want to reduce smuggling to the lowest level possible. Smugglers are economic saboteurs and must be treated as such”.
On how Customs operatives detect and differentiate local rice from the outlawed foreign rice, Kirawa said: “We look at how it’s bagged, we look out for the country of origin and of course, the inscription must be in English because that is our official language. We are poised to deliver.
We’ve access problems, in the last one month, we got brand new vehicles and the CGC has asked us to go after smugglers and with that motivation, there will be results”, he said.