From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano
Following directive by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigeria Customs is set to release rice and other edible items worth N3,251,806,000.00, with Duty Paid Value of N2,034,954,765.00, for Nigerians to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 economic downturn.
According to a Statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the Customs, Joseph Attah, on behalf of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), the items include: rice 46,000 metric tons (158 trailers); vegetable oil (25l) 36,495kegs (30 trucks), palm oil 3,428 kegs (1 truck), tomatoes paste 136,705 cartons (54 trucks), spaghetti/Noodles 2,951ctns & 1,253pkts (2trucks), Wrappers (Ankara) 828 bales (1truck), lace fabric 2,300 Rolls (1 truck).
The Statement noted 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.
“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 Dtayement further state that, “reacting to pains associated with the effects of the lockdown in some parts of the Country, some Nigerians have taken to the social media to call on Nigeria Customs 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.
The Statement, however, clarified that, “it should be noted that only edible items certified fit for human consumption by NAFDAC will be released to the public.
“As a responsible agency of Government, NCS appreciates the opportunity of contributing its quota to Federal Government’s continuous efforts to provide relief for Nigerians in this difficult time.
” 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.”