Nigeria Customs Service has re-introduced the restriction order on importation of rice through land borders across the country.
Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) gave the approval for the reversal of an earlier policy in October 2015 which allowed rice imports through the land borders, once appropriate duty and charges were paid.
Wale Adeniyi, spokesperson of Nigeria Customs Service said in a statement that at a review session held with Comptrollers of Border Commands and Federal Operation Units held in Abuja, the Service noted that dwindling revenue from rice imports through the land borders do not match the volume rice landed in neighboring ports. Rather, reports from border commands indicated an upsurge in the tempo of rice smuggling.
Though he noted that implementation of the restriction order got off to a smooth start, with a high level of compliance in October 2015, revenue started dwindling from January 2016, with importers blaming access to forex as major impediments.
According to NCS, during the five-month period when the importation was allowed which was from October 2015-March 17th 2016, a total of 24.992 Metric Tonnes of Rice valued at N 2. 33 billion was imported through the land borders.
The NCS said during the period, total revenue generated amounted to N 1.68billion.
“This is considerably lower than the revenue projected to be generated with the removal of import restrictions. However, an upsurge in the number of the seizures has been reported across the land borders since January 2016.
In the first two months of the 2016, a total of 9238 bags were seized, with Duty Paid Value of N64,666,000 was made by the Customs anti-smuggling patrol teams of Federal operations and Border commands.
Comptroller-General of Customs noted that his Officers and Men cannot be totally exonerated from the abuse associated with the implementation of the order on rice, as his office has been inundated with reports of collusion between them and Rice importers.
He has directed investigation into the reports, insisting that indicted personnel will be sanctioned.
“While directing a zero-tolerance to rice imports through the land borders irrespective of volume with immediate effect, he stated that importers who have already initiated import processes will have a grace period ending Friday 25th March 2016 to clear their consignments,” Adeniyi said.