Customs intercepts 15 trucks of smuggled food in Sokoto

Customs intercepts 15 trucks of smuggled food in Sokoto

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The Nigeria Customs Service announced on Sunday that it had intercepted 15 trailers loaded with food items attempting to exit the country through the Sokoto State border.

The agency disclosed that the trailers were halted, and the food items were returned to Nigeria as part of efforts to stabilize food prices nationwide, aligning with the Federal Government’s directives.

Earlier, The PUNCH reported that the Federal Government had established a committee, comprising the National Security Adviser, the Director-General of the Department of State Services, and the Inspector-General of Police, to crack down on traders hoarding grains.

According to the report, the government ruled out food importation as a strategy to address high food costs and economic challenges, a decision reached during an emergency meeting between President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and state governors at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

When contacted for details regarding the Customs’ actions against food hoarding or smuggling, Abdullahi Maiwada, the National Public Relations Officer, confirmed interceptions had occurred. He clarified that intercepted items were being sent back for local consumption to stabilize food prices.

Maiwada stated, “I don’t have the exact details, but interceptions have been made. Our focus is not on seizing the items but ensuring they are consumed locally to stabilize prices.”

While the All Farmers Association of Nigeria and private sector organizations supported government measures against hoarding and smuggling, food prices have surged, with December 2023 food inflation at 33.93%, up from 23.75% in December 2022, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

To address the crisis, AFAN President Kabir Ibrahim endorsed government action to release stored commodities at prevailing prices, urging swift intervention to curb price hikes.

In another development, the Senate approved a revenue target of N5.079 trillion and a budget of N706.4 billion for the Nigeria Customs Service in the 2024 fiscal year, following a report presentation by Committee Chairman Jibrin Isah.

The Customs aims to enhance trade facilitation through its Trade Modernisation Project, focusing on end-to-end automation of processes and procedures, as outlined by Controller Bashir Adeniyi during a steering committee meeting.

Furthermore, Controller Kolapo Oladeji of NCS Zone 4, Sokoto, affirmed the agency’s commitment to preventing food smuggling, describing it as unpatriotic and detrimental to national development. Several trucks were intercepted along the Gwadabawa–Illela road, according to Abdullahi Tsafe Abubakar, the command spokesman.

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