From Musliudeen Adebayo, Lokoja

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Niger/ Kogi Command on Thursday said it has intercepted no fewer than one thousand, four hundred and eighty two (1,482), bags of foreign rice illegally smuggled into the country.

Customs Area Controller in charge of Niger and Kogi states, Yusuf Abba-Kassim, who made this declaration while addressing journalists at a press briefing held in Minna, Niger State capital, insisted that the seizures were made between first day of October and October 23rd this year.

Our correspondent gathered that the interception of these prohibited items is coming few days after the federal government of Nigeria announced the closure of Nigerian borders.

Abba-Kassim while speaking at the press conference added that the command also intercepted no fewer than eight cars allegedly smuggled into the country by suspected smugglers.

He said, “In keeping to this promise the Command initiated new anti-smuggling strategies which led to remarkable exploits evidenced in the seizures on display today which include.

“One DAF diesel tanker (six tyres) with registration number RBC-05 ZS suspected to be concealing imported foreign rice which is yet to be examined. One DAF truck (ten tyres) with registration number MNA 893 XV loaded with Nine hundred and Fifty (950) 50kg bags of imported rice.

“Nine bales of used clothing (Second hand). Four (4) Toyota Corolla conveying cumulatively a total of One hundred and Thirty-Five (135) 50kg imported bags of rice. Three hundred and Ninety-Seven (397) 50kg imported bags of rice hidden within the forest by smugglers. Two (2) Toyota Rav4.  Four (4) Toyota Corolla. One (1) Peugeot 207. One (1) Mazda Premacy.

“The above seizures were made at different locations within the Command’s area of coverage all in the month of October 2019. It is worrisome to note that some Nigerians remain unrepentant even as they continue to lose. Not even the Federal Government’s visible efforts in transforming the agricultural sector, especially in the area of rice production as well as the increase prevalence of expired imported rice with its hazardous health implications have touched their conscience to avoid rice smuggling.

“However our resolve to deal with them remains unshaken more so now that the present management has directed thorough investigation with the view to prosecuting all those that will be found connected to this illegal act and the on-going border drill operations.

“The arrest of a diesel tanker meant for convening diesel now used in concealing smuggled imported foreign rice should send a serious signal to these recalcitrant saboteurs of the Nigerian economy that there is no hiding place. We are determined to beat all their concealment patterns with our superior intelligence network,” he disclosed.

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