No Mercy for Economic Saboteurs, Comptroller Warns Smugglers

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• Customs seizes 650 bags of rice
Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto

Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Sokoto Command, comprising Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi States, yesterday warned rice smugglers to steer away from the zone or face the wrath of the law.
The comptroller of the command gave the warning following the seizure of 300 bags of foreign rice concealed with 350 bags locally-made rice along Sokoto/Gusau road.

Speaking with journalists in Sokoto yesterday, the Customs Area Comptroller of the Command, Mr. Nasir Ahmad, expressed dismay that the menace of smuggling was being perpetrated by people in Sokoto and Kebbi States.

He described their action as economic sabotage and detrimental to the efforts of the federal government to boost rice farming in the country.

“It is just unfortunate that this smuggling of contraband is done by people from this area. Why are they killing rice milling in this zone?

“The 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.

“So, there is no hiding place for rice smugglers in this zone. They 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,” he stated

Ahmad said his men intercepted one truck loaded with 650 bags of rice  along Sokoto/Gusau road.

He said the foreign rice was concealed among locally-milled rice from Labana Rice Mill in Kebbi State.

“The smugglers concealed 300 bags of foreign rice among 350 bags of locally milled rice in order to evade customs but they were intercepted as a result of the vigilance of officers on patrol along the Gusau axis on Saturday.”

He said the Command would soon invite officials from Labana Rice Mill to ascertain if the package was purchased from their mill.

The Comptroller appealed to the traditional and community leaders especially in border communities to assist government in its efforts to curb smuggling in the zone.

“I 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,” Ahmad added.