By Matthew Abi
The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali has warned Nigerians that the rice being imported into the country contains poisonous chemical and dangerous for human consumption.
Making the assertion at a joint press conference organized by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmad on Thursday, Ali urged Nigerians to patronize rice that is locally produced in Nigeria.
Ali said that the Federal Government had not issued license for importation of rice and that any rice seen on the streets that was not produced in Nigeria was smuggled.
He said that 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,” the Customs boss said.
Ali said that 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.”
According to him, there is no smuggler that is too big to be arrested, and 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 which smugglers would try to import rice.
Earlier, the Minister assured Nigerians that her ministry would continue to do everything possible to safeguard the country’s economy through revenue boost performance.
“If we must address the outstanding money issue and satisfactory revenue performance in our country, we would never realise our share plans of ensuring appropriate financing of critical sectors such as Education, Infrastructure and ultimately procreating in Nigeria to live no one behind”.
“As the Minister of finance, I have taken up the President Buhari’s important call to action, by prioritizing revenue generation and formally launching in January 2019 a strategic revenue growth initiative that will boost the economy.
She however, expressed dissatisfaction on the global and domestic anticipation on economic melt down in 2019 with the projection of 3.3% which is the lowest in the African with a country projected to be likely 3.5% in the same year.