by Linda Ikeji
54 containers laden filled with contrabands including expired rice and banned drugs, has been seized by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Tin Can Island Command.
The Comptroller-General Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali, who briefed reporters at the Customs Examination Ground of the Tin Can Island Port said the seized items include 33 containers of expired rice, one container of rice concealed with spare parts, 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.
Value of the seizure has been placed at N2.713 billion and it was reportedly bagged in 50kg sacks which had the labels of Nigerian companies. Some include Master Rice bags with the label of Masters Energy Commodities Trading Limited, with its address as 31A, Remi Fani Kayode Street, GRA, Ikeja. The ‘Jasmine Rice’ consignment had the inscription “packed for Yumfei International Trading Company Limited”, with address as 103, Ebittu Ukiwe Street, Jabi, Abuja.
Customs Comptroller-General said there are plans to arrest those listed on the different consignments. He added that closure of land borders meant all goods for the Nigerian market are being routed through the seaports.
“One significant thing about this seizure is that all the rice has expired or about to expire. Also remarkable is the seizure of variants and unregistered performance enhancing drugs among the pharmaceutical.
“No doubt, those who imported these dangerous items do not wish us well. Imagine if they had succeeded in getting the expired rice in, re-bagged and changed the expiration date for Nigerians to consume.
“Realising that there may be possible backslash to the closure of the land borders, I directed all seaports and airports to beef up their surveillance and intercept any illicit and prohibited consignment for which attempt 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 means to ensure they are delivered to their warehouses in Nigeria,” Ali said.