The Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Ikeja, on Thursday, said it has intercepted 1000 bags of poisonous foreign parboiled rice imported from India and smuggled through the Benin Republic into the country.

Speaking during a press briefing in Lagos, the acting Comptroller, FOU, Zone A, Hussein Ejibunu, said the foreign rice was tested by the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), which confirmed that the rice contained lead, (a soft heavy toxic malleable metallic element), which is poisonous to public health, even as he said a total 12 suspects were arrested in connection with various seizures.

“After seizing the smuggled rice, we called NAFDAC to conduct laboratory analysis and it was gathered that the rice named SIMBA consists of lead substances. The substance it consisted of is poisonous to the body and dangerous to public health,” he said.
Ejibunu also said that the unit seized 55,800 litres of PMS, 73 bales of used clothes, 82 units of used fridges, 104 pieces of compressors, 143 bales of new textile, 1,264 pieces of used tyres, 156 cartons of frozen poultry and 7,960 pairs of new shoes amongst others.

He explained that pursuant to the Federal Government’s policy that encourages local production of rice against the importation of foreign parboiled rice, the FOU had seized 7,259 (of 50 kg each) bags of rice, which is an equivalent of over twelve (12) trucks load.

According to him, sequel to a laboratory test analysis on some of the seized foreign parboiled rice by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), one of the test parameters indicated some contents of lead (a soft heavy toxic malleable metallic element) in the tested rice; making it unfit for human consumption.

“Consequent upon this laboratory analysis on the foreign parboiled rice; as a responsible government agency, we are letting Nigerians know that apart from the negative economic impact of importing foreign rice into the country, some of these imported rice are unhealthy for human consumption. Thus, we advise consumers to desist from patronizing the Federal Government banned foreign parboiled rice.

“We as citizens have a collective responsibility to safeguard our economy and health for the benefit of all. Notable among other seizures recorded within the month of April are 55,800 litres of PMS, 73 bales of used clothes, 82 units of used fridges, 104 pieces of compressors, 143 bales of new textile, 1,264 pieces of used tyres, 156 cartons of frozen poultry, 7,960 pairs of new shoes, 240 pieces of ladies purse, 93 cartons of tin tomato, two units of foreign used vehicles, 11 pieces of used rugs, with a cumulative duty paid value (DPV) of N533,169,520.

“A total of 12 suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures; for committing various Customs offences. Following a series of diligent documentary checks on some initially cleared cargoes, demand notices (DN) were raised to the sum of N111,825,873.75, which was ultimately collected as revenue for the Federal Government,” he said.

Apart from the Federal Government’s policies geared towards the protection of its local economy against foreign competitors, he said the government in its wisdom prohibits goods like used clothes, used fridges/compressors and used tyres among others; because of their attending effects on the security, health and the economy.

“Therefore, Nigerians are urged to acquaint themselves with the import prohibition list for compliance and to cooperate with the Service to safeguard our country. We wish to thank our esteemed compliant importers/traders, as we assure them of our commitment to facilitate their genuine businesses.

“While we urge the recalcitrant traders to turn a new leaf by embracing legitimate trade, or face the consequences of their actions; because as a Unit, we are better mobilized by the Service, organized and determined with a very high morale to do our job without fear or favour,” he added.

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