‘We discovered lead in imported rice’ – Customs unit cautions against consumption
The federal operations unit (FOU) zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has cautioned the consumption of imported rice following discovery of toxic contents in the commodity.
The alarm was raised on Thursday by Hussein Ejibunu, acting controller of the unit at a media conference in Lagos
He said it was discovered that some imported rice were unhealthy for human consumption after a laboratory test was conducted by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on some seized rice.
Ejibunu said the test revealed the presence of lead — a toxic metallic element — in some of the products.
“Pursuant to the federal government’s policy that encourages local production of rice against the importation of Foreign Parboiled Rice, this Unit had seized 7,259 of 50 kg bags of rice, an equivalent of over twelve (12) truck loads,” he said.
“Sequel to a laboratory test analysis on some previously seized foreign parboiled rice by NAFDAC, one of the test parameters indicated some contents of lead (a soft heavy toxic malleable metallic element) in the tested rice.
“This is making the rice unfit for human consumption.”
According to him, upon the laboratory analysis, and as a responsible government agency, the unit is letting Nigerians know that, apart from the negative economic impact of importing foreign rice, some of them are unhealthy for human consumption.
He, therefore, advised consumers to desist from patronising the federal government’s banned foreign parboiled rice.
“We as citizens have a collective responsibility to safeguard our economy and health for the benefit of all,” he said.
Speaking on the operations, Ejibunu said 55,800 litres of petrol, 73 bales of used clothes, 82 units of used fridges, 104 pieces of compressors, 143 bales of new textile were some of the items seized in April.
Others include 1,264 pieces of used tyres, 156 cartons of frozen poultry products, 7,960 pairs of new shoes, 240 pieces of ladies’ purses, 93 cartons of tin tomato, two units of foreign used vehicles, and 11 pieces of used rugs.
Ejibunu said the seized items had a cumulative duty paid value (DPV) of N533,169,520.
He said a total of 12 suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures; for committing various customs offences.
He also noted that following a series of diligent documentary checks on some initially cleared cargoes, demand notices were raised to N111,825,873.75 which was ultimately collected as revenue for the government.
“Apart from the federal government’s policies towards the protection of its local economy against foreign competitors, the government in her wisdom prohibits goods like used clothes, used fridges/compressors and used tyres among others,” he added.
“This is because of their attending effects on the security, health and the economy. Therefore, Nigerians are urged to acquaint themselves with the import prohibition list for compliance and to cooperate with the service to safeguard our country.
“We thank our esteemed compliant importers/traders, as we assure them of our commitment to facilitate their genuine businesses.
“We urge the recalcitrant traders to turn a new leaf by embracing legitimate trade or face the consequences of their actions.
“As a unit, we are better mobilised by the Service, organised and determined with a very high morale to do our job without fear or favour.”
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