The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has said it seized 34 containers of rice smuggled through the Tin Can Island port in Lagos, some of which have expired.
The Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali (retd), disclosed this in Lagos on Tuesday.
According to Ali, one of the rice containers was concealed by its importers as spare parts, while 11 containers of unregistered pharmaceutical products, two containers of used tyres, one container of used clothing and four containers of refined vegetable oil in retail packs were also seized.
The Customs CG put the duty paid value of the seized goods at N2.7bn, adding that the recent closure of the land borders prompted importers of banned items to route them through the seaports.
He said: “Specifically, we are aware that the partial closure of the land borders has resulted in the diversion of some cargoes back to our seaports.
“While we welcome this development, which no doubt will boost revenue, improve our trade facts and figures and sustain our diversification efforts, we have also recorded a number of seizures of unwholesome products, which otherwise would have been smuggled through the borders.
“Realising that there may be possible backlash to the closure of the land borders, I directed all seaports and airports to beef up surveillance and intercept any illicit and prohibited consignments for which attempts for their smuggling may be made through these entry points.
“This decision was made considering that those consignments may have been paid for and the importers will devise entry means to ensure they are delivered to their warehouses in Nigeria.”
According to Ali, the Central Bank of Nigeria had not issued Form M since 2015 for the importation of rice through the seaports; therefore, any foreign rice in the country was smuggled.
The Customs CG said he had directed a full investigation to bring all those connected with the importation to justice.
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