Rice farmers beg Buhari to punish anyone in possession of foreign rice

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The Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RPAN) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to criminalise the sales of foreign rice in the country.

Recall the Buhari administration shut down all land borders in the county in August 2019 citing that the country needed to stop the struggling of drugs, small arms and agricultural products, especially rice.

The Federal Government reopened the land borders on December 16, 2020 but said the restriction on the importation of some commodities, like rice and other products, would continue to be enforced.

However, since borders have been reopened there have been concerns that people are smuggling rice through the borders.

Addressing newsmen on Saturday, the Director-General of the association, Andy Ekwelem lamented this influx of foreign rice amid the ongoing ban by the federal government.

Ekwelem warned that if the ban on rice importation is not properly enforced, all the mills in the country would collapse and lead to job losses.

He then charged the Nigeria Customs Service to improve its manning of the borders to prevent the activities of smugglers.

“We have said it many times on the need for government to criminalise sales of foreign rice in the markets and supermarkets. Rice is number one on the list of prohibited products in which CBN placed forex restriction,” the director-general said.

“It is assumed that any rice you see in this country now, in the markets, shops and even in your homes that is not Nigeria made rice, it is smuggled into the country.

“The country is losing revenue because these smugglers are not paying the right duties to bring the rice into the country and this ugly development is killing our economy.

“We want a law that will empower law enforcement agencies to go to markets and shops to arrest anyone found with foreign rice because their action amounts to economic sabotage.

“When that is done, people will be discouraged from buying from these people that smuggled rice into the country. We need to take drastic measures against smugglers as well as those selling the product.”

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