James Emejo in Abuja
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.), has appealed to Nigerians to stop consuming foreign rice because it is poisonous.
He said this yesterday in Abuja at a news conference organised by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Ali said the federal government had not issued license for importation of rice, adding that any rice seen on the streets that was not produced in Nigeria was smuggled.
He said the imported rice was poisonous because before coming into the country, it must have spent a minimum of five years in the silos.
“A chemical must have been added to sustain its freshness and that chemical is harmful.
“Also, it has been re-bagged with a new date given as the production and expiry date and that is what we consume here, which causes diseases.
“So, I appeal to Nigerians to please patronise our own rice; it is available, more nutritious and if you do that you will assist customs by making sure these people are put out of business.”
Ali said rice importation was one of the biggest challenges the NCS was encountering, adding that it still happens because Nigerians consume the imported rice.
He added that Nigerians were not helping matters as they helped the smugglers bring in the product.
According to him, if Nigerians stop buying the imported rice, smugglers will go out of business and there will be no need to bring it in.
“We always ask for assistance from Nigerians to apprehend these smugglers but up till now there is no private citizen that has walked up to us to give us information; the only people giving us information are the rice millers.
“We are working very closely with them to make sure that the rice that comes into this country is validly processed,” he explained.
According to him, there is no smuggler that is too big to be arrested, adding that the NCS has in custody three big rice smugglers.
He said because of the smugglers, the NCS enlarged its task force specifically to fight rice problem, especially in the season of fasting, a celebration period during which smugglers would try to import rice.