Covid-19: Customs releases 158 trucks of seized foreign rice, others worth N3.2bn


In compliance with the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) has approved the release of the various items earlier seized by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) as relief materials to boost the federal government continuous efforts to alleviate sufferings associated with the ongoing lockdown in some parts of the country as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The items approved for release by the Comptroller General of Customs included; Rice – 46,000 metric tons (158 trailers), Vegetable oil (25l) – 36,495kegs (30 truck), Palm oil 3,428 kegs (1 truck), Tomatoes paste – 136,705 cartons (54 trucks), Spaghetti/Noodles – 2,951 cartons and 1,253 packets (2trucks), Wrappers (Ankara) – 828 bales (1truck) as well as Lace fabric – 2,300 Rolls (1 truck).

According to a statement on Tuesday in Abuja by the National Public Relations Officer (NPRO) of the Service, DC Joseph Attah, the estimated value of the items approved for release is three billion, two hundred and fifty-one million, eight hundred and six thousand Naira (N3,251,806,000.00) with a  Duty Paid Value of two billion, thirty-four million, nine hundred and fifty-four thousand, seven hundred and sixty-five Naira (N2,034,954,765.00).

The statement however noted that only edible items certified fit for human consumption by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) would be released to the public.

It recalled that the outbreak of the deadly Corona Virus (Covid-19) necessitated various and continuous actions by government at different levels to prevent/stop the spread of the virus in Nigeria.

It observed that reacting to pains associated with the effects of the lockdown in some parts of the country, some Nigerians had taken to the social media to call on the Service to share seized rice and other edible items to members of the public.

“While some of these calls appear well intended, others had attempted to create the impression that Customs officers have the liberty to use seized items as they deem fit. Some even mischievously impugned that the items may have already been shared to cronies. Nothing can be further from the truth.

“It is therefore necessary to explain that in line with the provision of section 167(2) of CEMA CAP C45 LFN 2004, seized items upon condemnation and forfeiture to the federal government by a competent court of jurisdiction are kept in government warehouses pending government directive on its disposal.

“Accordingly, in compliance with the Presidential directive, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col, Hameed Ali (Rtd) has already approved the release of the following relief items to boost the Federal Government continuous efforts to alleviate sufferings associated with the painful but necessary ongoing lockdown in some parts of the Country”, the statement said.

It pointed out that as a responsible agency of government; the Service appreciated the opportunity of contributing its quota to the federal government’s continuous efforts to provide relief for Nigerians in this difficult time.

The statement stated that “NCS remains committed to strictly adhering to all extant laws governing seized and overtime cargoes. Despite the prevailing risks, the Service will continue to discharge its functions of securing the land borders and collection of revenue that is needed during and post Covid- 19 pandemic period.

“While urging the officers and men to remain focused on Service delivery, the CGC reminds the operatives and all Nigerians on the need to obey all directives of government and medical experts to stop the spread of the deadly virus.”

Photo: National Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Customs Service, DC Joseph Attah.

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