By Odunewu Segun
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) at the weekend denied media reports that it had lifted the ban on importation of rice into the country through the land borders.
Customs image maker, Deputy Controller, Wale Adeniyi who made the disclosure, explained that rice importation through land borders remained banned and prohibited warning that smugglers caught violating the law will be arrested and prosecuted.
He however said those coming into the country legitimately through the seaports where proper duties and extant charges are paid will continue through the end of 2016.
Adeniyi attributed the circulation of wrong information on the true situation of the commodity to the activities and ploy of a cabal engaged in rice smuggling and recycling, to confuse the public and set it against the federal government.
The NCS through a statement by Adeniyi reads: “Our attention has been drawn to publications on various online platforms indicating that the Nigeria Customs Service has reversed the ban on Rice importation through the land borders.
“These reports were attributed to a press interview purportedly granted by the Service Public Relations Officer, Deputy-Comptroller Wale Adeniyi. It has become necessary to re-state the true position in view of the confusion which these online publications may create in the industry.”
“First, we like to reiterate the position that importation of Rice remains banned through our Land Borders, and we have the commitment of partner government agencies and Stakeholders to enforce this restriction. While this restriction is in force, Rice imports through the Ports are still allowed subject to payment of extant charges.”
Adeniyi also restate confidence of the Nigeria Customs Service in the ability of Nigerian rice producers to fill the existing sufficiency gaps in the supply of the product. “The Service has noted with satisfaction the ongoing rice revolution undertaken by many State Governments, and Strategic Interventions by Federal Government agencies.”
He said the NCS advocate for a total ban on rice importation into Nigeria with effect from 2017, adding that the continuous waste of scarce forex on a commodity that can be produced locally makes no economic sense, most especially at a period of recession.