Several foreign bags of rice were seized by the officials of Nigeria Customs Service in the commercial border town main market in Mubi, Adamawa State. This is where smuggling activities are said to be high despite the border closure directive of the federal government.
The Customs officials raided the Mubi town market with the aid of the Nigeria Police Force. The Comptroller, Kamardeen Olumoh, who led the raid, said smuggling had become a menace in the area with foreign rice being their specialisation.
Nigeria has been losing revenue to smuggling for decades due to the porous border that separates the country from Niger, Benin, Chad and Cameroon. The border closure had been announced to prevent smuggling of items into the country after the Federal Government said the neighbouring countries were not forthcoming on their promise to curb smuggling of items from their countries.
Mubi, den of smugglers: Mubi is located close to the Yedseram river, around Cameroon’s northern border. According to Olumoh, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, issued a directive to curb smuggling in the town by raiding shops and stores.
This became necessary as smuggling activities had begun to take over the town, so the raid serves as a warning shot to the smugglers operating in the area, as the Customs arrested three suspects. He said the constitution backed the ransacking of the market without a warrant.
“The menace of smuggling around this axis has been alarming for quite some time. The Comptroller-General of Customs ordered that the operations be carried out, that Mubi market must be mopped up of all smuggled items, especially foreign rice.”
He added, “Today, we are in the market and we are able to evacuate large quantity of rice and this is a clear signal to smugglers.
“We are backed by the law. Section 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act has given us the power to enter or search premises day or night, to break and enter, make arrest; in fact, without warrant and that is exactly what we did today,” he said in a Punch report.
Who is benefiting from border closure? The closure of the land border continues to affect the activities of smugglers who now create new methods to smuggle foreign rice into Nigeria. Some cars have been caught with rice hidden in their compartment and other vehicle parts, in a bid to avoid detection.
Also, the border closure has caused price inflation in household items, including rice and livestock. The price jump is affecting the purchasing power of Nigerians as it digs a hole into their wallets. But with the entry of new local rice brands, high price of local rice is expected to crash.
Meanwhile, Hameed Ali, disclosed in a report by Nairametrics, that the agency collected N9.2 billion in one day and subsequently had been raking in between N4.7 billion and N5.8 billion daily. This he said was as a result of the border closure exercise initiated by the Federal Government. Nairametrics had reported that immediately after the partial closure of borders, the customs service recorded N115.6 billion in September.