The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has denied report that it had reversed ban on the importation of rice through the land borders.
Recall that the Customs Public Relations Officers, Wale Adeniyi was quoted by some online publications to have said that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd) has reordered the immediate removal of rice from import restriction list and the re-introduction of import duty payment at land borders.
According to an earlier press statement signed by Adeniyi, the restriction only applied to importation through land border stations before now, adding that the Customs boss had lifted restriction on rice at border stations.
Adeniyi said that all rice imports through land borders by rice traders would attract the prevailing import duty of 10 per cent with 60 per cent levy.
But in a statement retracting the earlier one, 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.
In a copy of the statement made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday, 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 said, “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.
“It is even more expedient to provide this clarification given the fact that the Service has taken a firm position earlier in the week through a joint press conference with stakeholders.
“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. xxexisting 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.
“The Service is convinced that the bumper harvests expected from these efforts will address the supply gap in 2017.
“It is our belief that continuous waste of scarce forex on a commodity that can be produced locally makes no economic sense, most especially at a period of recession.
“The Service will therefore advocate a total Ban on Rice Importation into Nigeria with effect from 2017. “
It is worrisome that the publications that resurfaced this weekend were being attributed to a Press interview granted in October 2015.
“We strongly suspect that some powerful forces behind Rice Smuggling are at work, recycling an old report under a different circumstance to create confusion.
“We urge Nigerians to watch out for similar antics as the firm stand on Rice smuggling will pitch their selfish interest against our national interest.”