Maritime stakeholders are not happy with the Comptroller General of Customs, Col Hammed Ali (Rtd) over the recent statement where the customs boss urged Nigerians to desist from eating imported rice describing it as poisonous.
Shipping Position Daily recalls that Customs CG, recently in Abuja, appealed to Nigerians to stop consuming foreign rice saying that it is poisonous, adding that any foreign rice seen anywhere in Nigeria was smuggled as the federal government has not given license for the importation of rice.
Ali, also said that those foreign rice and poisonous because before coming into the country, it must have spent a minimum of five years in the silos.
Reacting to this, the Public Relations Officer of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Stanley Ezenga told our correspondent in Lagos last week, that if the CG of Customs says the rice is poisonous, it then means he is indirectly poisoning the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as most of the imported seized bags of rice are taken to the IDPs camps nationwide.
He also disagreed with Ali over that statement, saying that in as much as there is need to encourage local rice farmers; he is not supposed to say that imported rice is poisonous.
“I think what he said was in error, because most of those bags of rice are given to IDP camps so if he says that they are poisonous that means he is indirectly poisoning the people in the IDP camps. But be it as it may it is not poisonous of cause we need to encourage local manufacturers of rice but then we don’t need to say that the rice imported are poisonous. I don’t agree with him that those bags of rice are poisonous”, he stated.
Also speaking, a chieftain of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Abiola Suleiman said that Ali is not a professional customs officer; that is why he can make such a statement.
“First of all you need to understand that CGC is not a professional customs officer, secondly he has never been in the corridor of this industry for once and thirdly he is not a business man. So lest put all these three factors together you will see that what the man said has not base.
What he said has no base he is only trying to satisfy his boss for the negative policy they are trying to introduce which they have introduced by the ban on rice importation”.
He challenged the customs boss to point any person or persons who have been found dead for consuming foreign imported rice, even as he added that the local rice the government is clamoring for is nowhere to be found.
“If the rice is poisonous, before this administration we have been importing rice into this country, how many people have been reported dead because they consumed imported rice. The rice importations from other countries are all good and standard products they only want to pave way for local production of rice which has not yet properly circulated in this country”
“The local rice they are clamoring for, you can’t find it anywhere. Something that is not accessible to the masses they are saying that the local produced rice is making waves, are the products if I see the rice I will patronize it. What the man is saying is totally wrong, there is no poisonous rice anywhere, if there is any. If he says the rice is poisonous he should come let’s cook and give to a dog and see if the dog will die” he said.