By Eromosele Abiodun
The Comptroller General of Customsâ€™ Strike Force on smuggling of foreign parboiled rice has intercepted five trailers that were loaded with the commodity from Ogun State.
The smuggled rice numbering about 3,000 bags of 50kg.
The parboiled foreign rice were concealed inside containers and trucks belonging to corporate organisations.
The interception of the commodity took place barely a week after the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, hinted about planned closure of the land borders due to massive smuggling of rice into the country.
But,Â speaking to newsmen at the weekend, the Zonal Commander of the Strike Force, Zone A,Â Salisu Assababullah said the interception was made at Ijebu Ode,Â Ogun State.
According to him, the task force was able to make the seizure through intelligence it gathered on the fresh way of smuggling parboiled rice into the country.
Assababullah explained: “The CGC task force intercepted 3000 bags of 50kg rice smuggled into the country. They were intercepted along Ijebu Ode expressway with two suspects in custody.”
He stated further: “We were able to get intelligence report that container laden trucks were taken to the border area, load it with smuggled rice and put seal as if it were a container released from seaports.”
The CGC Strike Force who attributed the success recorded to the other members of the team also acknowledged the federal government approval of brand new pickup for anti-smuggling which he said aided in the recent interception made.
The Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the sum of N1.55 billion for the procurement of 68 brand new Ford Pickup operational vehicles for Customs.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who briefed State House Correspondents alongside the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning and the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had explained that the operational vehicles currently available for the service are grossly inadequate for effective anti-smuggling activities.
She added that the need to effectively patrol the borders of the country, enhance Customsâ€™ bid to suppress smuggling and increase revenue collection gave rise to the request to purchase 68 operational vehicles.
Adeosun further explained that having identified the need, the Service made provision for the purchase of 68 operational vehicles, Hilux, in its 2017 capital appropriation.
Assababullah stated that the strike force got nine vehicles from the 68 vehicles approved by FEC for anti-smuggling and in two weeks, the strike force was able to intercept 3000 smuggled rice.
He however advised smugglers to engage in legitimate business as the ad-hoc body now understand their antics, saying that they would be caught.