The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has reversed the policy which earlier lifted the ban on rice import through land borders by re-introducing the restriction order across the country with immediate effect.
However, a statement on Tuesday by the service’s public relations officer, Wale Adeniyi, placed a mandate on importers who have already initiated import processes to clear their consignments before the end of March 25, 2016.
The statement also explained that the decision to re-impose ban on rice was triggered by the massive loss of revenue due to smuggling of rice through the land borders as the NCS failed to realise the projected revenue from such imports.
The Comptroller General of the Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), shortly after resumption of office, gave the approval for the reversal of an earlier policy in October 2015, directing that rice imports through the land borders be allowed once appropriate duty and charges were paid. But at a review session held with comptrollers of border commands and the NCS Federal Operation Units (FOUs) in Abuja, the service realised that “the dwindling revenue from rice imports through the land borders do not match the volume of rice landed in neighboring ports. Rather, reports from border commands indicated an upsurge in the tempo of rice smuggling,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, Ali, according to the statement, also noted that officers of the service cannot be totally exonerated from the abuse associated with the implementation of the order on rice, stating that his office has been inundated with reports of collusion between officers and rice importers. The CGC, while directing a zero-tolerance to rice imports through the land borders irrespective of volume with immediate effect, directed an investigation into the reports and vowed to sanction any personnel found culpable.
The NCS, however, stated that the removal of the import restriction on rice got off to a smooth start with a high level of compliance in October 2015.