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FG turns back ship load of killer rice

From Magnus Eze, Abuja

The Federal Government has foiled attempt by one of the leading rice producing nations to donate ship load of poisonous rice to the country for use at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in the northeast.

It also alerted the Nigeria Customs Service and other law enforcement agencies of plot by smugglers to flood Nigerian markets with over 1million tons of foreign rice, said to have been warehoused in neighbouring Republic of Benin, especially as the Christmas and New Year season approaches.

 Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, who disclosed these at a stakeholders’ meeting on how to curtail smuggling of agricultural products into the country, in Abuja, yesterday, said government discovered that the rice was not fit for human consumption when it was subjected to quality control test in the laboratories.

 The minister, however, did not name the donor country. But to forestall a reoccurrence in future, he said, government policy now, was that any country wishing to donate rice to the IDPs must use Nigerian rice.  

 “Locally made products in the market are fresh but the imported ones; we don’t know how long they had been in the silos. Recently, one country decided to donate a ship load of rice to Nigeria to use and support the IDPs in the northeast; when we subjected the rice to tests, we discovered that the rice was actually poisoned; which means that most of the rice that is imported into the country had been in the silos for 10 to 40 years.  

 “But what we have told them is that anybody who wants to support any of the IDPs or anybody in Nigeria should come and buy the locally made rice. The argument is that the rice made here is more expensive and we are saying, even if you can buy half bushel, come and buy. It’s better for us to eat a smaller quantity of nutritious rice than for us to eat poisonous ship load of rice.

 “On poultry, we discovered that the poultry products brought into this country have formalin, which I earlier said is a chemical used for the preservation of human remains (dead bodies). I don’t know why somebody should have that in his food when you’re not dead.

It’s when you are dead that you should be embalmed with formalin but not when you are alive. But what I want us to know is that anybody who eats smuggled poultry product is actually embalming himself or herself,” the minister stated.  

 Lokpobiri disclosed that findings by the Ministry showed that Beninese do not eat parboiled foreign rice, but smugglers have continued to route the contraband through the Republic of Benin borders; to the detriment of Nigeria’s economy.

 He said importation, and smuggling of foreign foods into the country has serious consequences on the health of Nigerians who consume the food, as well as adverse economic implications, because the morale of local food producers is dampened by the increasing smuggling activities.

 On the actions the government intends to take in proffering solution to the development, he said “We don’t want to use force in addressing the issue, but engage all stakeholders by pointing out the dangers in smuggling and consuming foreign foods, frozen fish and other poultry products”.

 Also speaking, the Secretary General of Nigeria Association of Agriculture Products Dealers (NAAPD), Kingsley Chikezie, said that members of his association were faced with the challenge of double taxation in purchasing and transporting farm products across the country.

 He also accused government agents involved in the fight against smuggling of insincerity, saying they have continued to compromise at various entry points.

 Chikezie also said that investigations by their association revealed that there are more than 300 porous entry points for smugglers at both Lagos and Oyo border towns, adding that most of the law enforcement agents are not found there.


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1 Comment

  1. jahili 12th December 2017 at 4:08 am

    You people asked for bribe in your usual way of doing business, the donor country refused and now their product is labelled poisonous!, the main reason why the minister would not name the country. I can assure you that this country will fire back, and reveal what really happen. This is nigeria we are talking about, a country where everyone in govt is expected to receive bribe to do their daily work for which tax payers pay for their salaries. It is a shame. Since when does a beggar have choice? I asked. This country continue to bungle and fumble at every level under Buhari, have no direction and no idea of what they are doing. First of all, you ban rice importation, even before your country can produce any, let alone produce in sufficient quantity to satisfy local consumption/ demand. Gradually, this vision less govt is relegating our major staple (rice) for the rich. We are back to 1960s and 70s when rice was eaten only during Christmas and other festive periods because poor people could not afford to eat any more than festive time. This is pure wickedness and man’s inhumanity to man! Mr minister, if you cannot in your conscience just your salary and other money you are looting, you are indeed stealing from the poor.

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