Monday 17 July 2017

Smuggling: Senate will unravel those behind importation of unwholesome foods – Saraki

The President of the Nigerian Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has reiterated the commitment of the 8th Senate, to unearth the corrupt practices relating to the smuggling of rice and other unwholesome food items into the country.

This was even, as the Senate President had attributed the rising in epidemics and untimely deaths of Nigerians to the illegal importation of food items through the Nigerian boarders.

Saraki made this known on Monday, while declaring open, a one day public hearing organized by the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tarrif, on the theme ‘Smuggling: A threat to Nigeria’s quest to self sufficiency in rice production’.

According to Saraki, the local producers are faced with obstacles due to the activities of smugglers, despite governments restrictions on importations.

He called for immediate investigation into the corrupt practices in various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government, adding that, a fact finding investigation would put a permanent stop to the shady deals.

“A sanitization of the local rice production industry will in line with our legislative agenda encourage the government’s effort on the diversification of our economy. The impact of the outcome of this exercise on our local industry is huge as it will most definitely increase local rice production.

“Another issue here, is the great health concerns: No doubt, these smuggling have brought about the importation of unwholesome foods into our country, causing ill health and even deaths to our citizens. Nigerians deserve the best in what we consume and we must safeguard the health of our citizenry”, Saraki said.

The Senate President charged the participants, especially, the various stakeholders at the public hearing, to be open minded and cooperate with the Senate, to enable it draw up recommendations that would be forwarded to the executive arm of government for prompt intervention.

Over 40 agencies and stakeholders in the customs sector were expected to take part in the public hearing.

They include the Nigerian Customs Service, the Nigerian Immigration Service, the Nigerian Shippers Council, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the National Agency for Food and Drugs Control (NAFDAC), among others.

It could be recalled that, the Senate, during its plenary of Tuesday, 13th June, 2017, debated on a motion sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tarrif, Hope Uzodinma, and unanimously resolved on the need to investigate and unearth those behind smuggling and illegal importation of rice and the operations of the Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS).

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