The Senate ad-hoc Committee on Import Duty Waivers, on Monday accused two foreign companies, Stallion Group and Olam International, which were involved in rice importation into the country, of owing Nigeria N44bn as import duties on 457,000 metric tonnes they imported since May 2014.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Adamu Aliero, demanded that full payment of the dues owed by the foreign firms be paid, insisting that “Nigeria would not fold its hands and watch the huge debt swept under the carpet.”
“There is no way the government will ignore this kind of money. We have to ensure that this money is collected and deposited into the federation account”, he said.
Aliero noted that while the Nigeria Customs Service confronted Stallion Group with payment demand notices, the firm opted to drag NCS to court.
He accused the company of exceeding the quota given to it to import 157,000 metric tonnes of rice with impunity by importing 457,000 metric tonnes, in excess of its required quota.
According to the Executive Director of Stallion Group, Harpreet Singh, the Ministry of Agriculture opted to flout the tenets of the rice policy by giving quotas to “non-existing millers and investors who have no connection with the policy while the existing investors were left blind.”
Singh said that his company had lost millions of naira to activities of smugglers as a result of porous borders.
Ade Adefeko, spokesman for Olam claimed that it had the largest rice farm in Africa and that it has been operating in Nigeria in the past 35 years.
Adefeko argued that given its long period of business operation in Nigeria, the company would not consider short-changing the nation.