The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) has approved the release of 247 truckloads of relief items with a market value of N3.250 billion and a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N2billion from its warehouses. A statement by Customs’ Public Relations Officer, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah, said the approval was in compliance with the Presidential directive to provide relief items from seizures by Customs operatives.
It said the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19) necessitated various and continuous actions by Government at different levels to prevent and/or stop the spread of the virus in Nigeria. The statement also said in reaction to pains associated with the effects of the lockdown in some parts of the country, some Nigerians on social media called on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to share seized rice and other edible items to the public.
The relief items include 158 trailer load of rice estimated at 46,000 metric tonnes, 30 trucks of vegetable oil with 36,495 units of 25 litre kegs, and 3,428 kegs of palm oil. Others are 54 trucks containing 136,705 cartons of tomatoes paste, 2,951 cartons of spaghetti and 1,253 packets of noodles, 828 bales of wrappers (Ankara) and 2,300 rolls of lace fabric.
The entire load of relief materials will be conveyed in 247 trucks, the analysis shows as Customs noted that only edible items certified fit for human consumption by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) will be released to the public . Customs clarified that the provision of section 167(2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) CAP C45 LFN 2004 says seized items upon condemnation and forfeiture to the Federal Government by a competent court of jurisdiction are kept in government warehouses pending government directive on its disposal.
“Accordingly, in compliance with the Presidential directive, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col, Hameed Ali (Rtd) has already approved the release of relief items to boost the Federal Government continuous efforts to alleviate sufferings associated with the painful but necessary ongoing lockdown in some parts of the country,” it noted. As at the time of filing this report, locations and places where the items will be distributed are yet to be disclosed by the Customs.
Daily Trust reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday ordered the distribution of 150 trucks of rice seized by Customs to the 36 states of the Federation. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists at a news conference in Abuja on Monday. The news conference was on the fiscal stimulus measures in response to COVID-19 pandemic and oil prices fiscal shock.
Ahmed said the seized trucks of rice had been handed over to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management for onward distributions to Nigerians. She added that in addition to this, the president had also approved distribution of grains from strategic grain reserves across the country.