Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto
The Sokoto Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), comprising Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi States, has intercepted 506 bags of foreign rice concealed in bags of beans with duty paid value of N12.1 million.
Speaking with journalists in Sokoto yesterday, the Customs Area Controller of the command, Mr. Nasir Ahmad, said his men intercepted one truck with 506 bags of rice along Illela-Sokoto road.
He disclosed that the contraband items were intercepted on Friday as a result of the vigilance of officers on border patrol along the axis.
Ahmad said the contraband goods were concealed in 100 kg bags of beans with duty paid value of N12.127,808 million.
â€œThe smugglers devised a trick by concealing two (50kg)bags of rice in a 100 kg bag covered with beans in order to evade our men. But we got intelligence reports from Kebbi state and succeeded in intercepting the contraband,â€he explained.
The controller stated that foreign rice was among the prohibited items barred from entry through the land borders.
He called on the smugglers to desist forthwith and embrace the policies of the federal government by engaging actively in farming.
â€œThe federal government is trying to encourage local production of rice so that we can have self-sufficiency and conserve foreign exchange. We have WACOT and Labana rice mills in Kebbi State and the seaports are open for anybody who wants to import rice.
â€œSo, there is no hiding place for rice smugglers through Kebbi. Smugglers should go back to farm and engage in commercial farming. Whatever tricks they use, we will combat them because we have zero tolerance for smuggling in this zone,â€ he stated.
The controller appealed to the traditional and community leaders especially in border communities to assist government in its efforts to curb smuggling in the zone.
â€œI am appealing to the citizens, especially residents of border communities to assist us to curb the menace of smuggling in this zone because they are beneficiaries of government policies on rice production,â€ he added.