Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.), Comptroller-General, NCS

Contraband: Customs warns dealers, threatens to shut superstores, shops

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has warned owners of supermarkets and shops in some parts of the country to stop patronising foreign rice and other prohibited goods.

Ahmed Nasir, Kano/Jigawa Area Controller of NCS in a statement said: “In our effort to suppress smuggling, the Nigeria Customs Service, Kano/Jigawa Area Command deemed it fit to write and seek your cooperation to stop patronising foreign rice and other prohibited items in your supermarket/shops to avoid being closed by Customs operatives.”

ConsumerConnect gathered that Customs’ latest warning to the dealers comes months after the Nigerian Government ordered the closure of its land borders to neighbouring countries.

It is recalled that Nigeria, August 21, 2019, closed all its land borders to tackle smuggling, but the unprecedented move is apparently affecting trade across the region.

Bustling borders have come to a standstill, with goods rotting and queues of lorries waiting at checkpoints in the hope the crossings will reopen, but not yet.

Report states that despite the ban, foreign rice still saturates the Nigerian market.

Although, the customs authorities said Nigeria had gained from the closure, prices of food staples have risen suddenly and legitimate businesses have been caught in the crossfire.

The country’s inflation has also been on the rise since August.

The government says the border closures will help to boost local food production.

Nonetheless, some have argued that rice takes time to grow, harvest, process and sell, and the country’s farming industry may not keep up with the huge increase in consumer demand for the product.

“We are not yet ripe to close the border because we need years [of] investing in farmers so they can harvest enough for Nigeria,” said Ekpo Ain, a rice trader at the Sura market in Lagos told Financial Times (FT).

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