Health and Safety Maritime

Seized imported rice unhealthy – Customs

Written by Maritime First

… As Unknown gunmen attack Ebonyi area, set vehicles ablaze***

The Nigeria Customs Service Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A on Thursday said some imported rice were unhealthy for human consumption.

The Acting Controller of the Unit, Hussein Ejibunu, said during a media conference in Lagos, that this was discovered after a laboratory test was conducted by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on some seized rice.

Also read: Customs Intercepts Contraband worth N31.5m in Katsina

“Pursuant to the Federal Government’s policy that encourages local production of rice against the importation of foreign parboiled rice, this Unit had seized 7,259 of 50 kg bags of rice, an equivalent of over twelve (12) truck loads.

“Sequel to a laboratory test analysis on some previously seized foreign parboiled rice by NAFDAC, one of the test parameters indicated some contents of lead (a soft heavy toxic malleable metallic element) in the tested rice.

“This is making the rice unfit for human consumption,” he said.

He said consequently, upon the laboratory analysis, as a responsible government agency, “we are letting Nigerians know that apart from the negative economic impact of importing foreign rice, some of these rice are unhealthy for human consumption.”

Thus, he advised consumers to desist from patronising the Federal Government’s banned foreign parboiled rice.

“We as citizens have a collective responsibility to safeguard our economy and health for the benefit of all,” he said.

Ejibunu listed some items seized in the month of April as 55,800 litres of petrol, 73 bales of used clothes, 82 units of used fridges, 104 pieces of compressors, 143 bales of new textile.

Others are 1,264 pieces of used tyres, 156 cartons of frozen poultry products, 7,960 pairs of new shoes, 240 pieces of ladies purses, 93 cartons of tin tomato, 2 units of foreign used vehicles, and 11 pieces of used rugs.

He added that the seized items had a cumulative Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N533,169,520.

He said a total of 12 suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures; for committing various customs offences.

He said following series of diligent documentary checks on some initially cleared cargoes, demand notices were raised to N111,825,873.75 which was ultimately collected as revenue for the government.

“Apart from the Federal Government’s policies towards the protection of its local economy against foreign competitors, the government in her wisdom prohibits goods like used clothes, used fridges/compressors and used tyres among others.

“This is 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 thank our esteemed compliant importers/traders, as we assure them of our commitment to facilitate their genuine businesses.

“We urge the recalcitrant traders to turn a new leaf by embracing legitimate trade or face the consequences of their actions.

“As a unit, we are better mobilised by the Service, organised and determined with a very high morale to do our job without fear or favour,” he said.

In another development, unidentified gunmen suspected to be enforcing a two-day ‘phantom’ sit-at-home allegedly declared by yet to be identified dissident group in South-East attacked Ebebe Junction in Abakaliki metropolis, Ebonyi.

The attackers who struck the area at about 6:20 a.m on Friday set a vehicle ablaze while a motorcycle operator escaped death by whiskers.

Mr Anayo Chukwuemeka, a resident of the area who spoke to the newsmen said that the attackers fired several gunshots that got residents panicking and scampering for safety.

“It happened in a flash.

But, when the gunshots died down and we came out, we saw that a vehicle has been burnt beyond recognition.

“The driver of the vehicle who managed to escape told us that the gunmen said they are enforcing the sit-at-home declared in protest of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Ebonyi.

“A motorcycle operator who also escaped the attackers gunshots told us that they fired at him but he miraculously dodged the bullets,” Chukwuemeka said.

Also, Mr Simon Onwe, a shop owner in the area told newsmen that the attackers came in a vehicle without a number plate shot sporadically in the air and immediately fled.

“I was still inside my shop because I slept there; I heard the gunshots but I discovered later that they left a vehicle burnt beyond recognition while a motorcycle operator told us that he narrowly escaped their bullets.

“It’s so unfortunate that we witnessed such an ugly incident in this area that is usually very peaceful and spralling with business activities, especially at evening periods,” he said.

Meanwhile, a combined team of men of the Nigeria Police and the Ebubeagu Eastern Security Outfit, Ebonyi Command have condoned off the area.

Mrs Loveth Odah, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ebonyi command when contacted for reaction said that she was yet to get a report of the incident.

“I’m just getting the information from you; I’m not aware of the attack,” Odah said.

Meanwhile, an officer of the command at the scene of the incident told newsmen on condition of anonymity that the police have organised a manhunt to apprehend the armed criminals.

However, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist group agitating for the independent state of Biafra had in a statement signed by Emma Powerful, its media and publicity coordinator said that the group has not declared any sit-at-home in the South-East.

Buhari arrived in Ebonyi on Thursday on a two-day state visit.

The President is expected to interface with leaders and stakeholders of the zone.

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