The danger daily faced by unsuspecting consumers of rice in Nigeria was exposed on Wednesday, by the Oyo/Osun Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, when it displayed scores of smuggled expired bags of rice loaded in a DAF truck which it intercepted.
Also seized were a brand new bullet-proof Toyota Landcruiser Prado Sport Utility Vehicle which was smuggled into Nigeria without duty payment and 24 other used vehicles of different brands loaded with imported rice and general goods.
Showing the seizures to journalists at the area command headquarters in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Wednesday, the Area Comptroller, Mr Tolulope Ogunkua, listed them to include four Mercedes Benz trucks, two of which were loaded with bags of imported rice; a MAN truck loaded with bags of rice; a Scania truck loaded with general goods and five Volkswagen Golf cars loaded with rice.
Others are a Lexus RX350 SUV, a Toyota Venza car, a Honda Civic car, a Nissan Pick-up van, a Toyota Corolla car, a DAF truck, three Nissan Micra cars, a Toyota Avalon car, a Mazda bus and an Urvan bus.
Condemning the activities of the smugglers, particularly those who brought in expired bags of rice, the Area Comptroller said that aside going against the law, importation of expired food items pose serious injury to the health of consumers.
He also disclosed that the Oyo/Osun area command generated a total of N7.246billion between January and June 2016, with a shortfall of N346million, when compared with the N7.592 billion made within the same period in 2015.
He attributed the shortfall to government fiscal policies such as high exchange rate, ban on importation of rice through land borders, general economic downturn which affected sales in major excise factories and general insecurity in the nation, among others.
Ogunkua added that a total of 119 seizures with duty paid value of N240.3million were made within the same period under review.
He listed some of the strategic seizures in the first half of the year to include3,948 50-kilogramme bags of rice, 65 assorted vehicles and 66 cartons of imported poultry products.
He restated the resolve of his area command to continue to combat smuggling activities, expressing the determination to work towards doubling revenue generation in the second half of the year through re-strategisation, various diversifications in intelligence gathering and application of diplomacy in anti-smuggling activities, especially in volatile border areas such as Oke-Ogun in Oyo State.