The Oyo, Osun Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS), on Thursday insisted that the bags of rice taken to Oyo were in good condition before it was dispatched, explaining that before the bags of rice were loaded and distributed, top officials of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti States duly tested and certified that the rice were good.
The Customs Command, however stated that it was not true that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) was actually invited to test and certify that the rice distributed to Oyo state government was fit for consumption.
This clarification laid to rest the argument between the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar- Faruoq and the NAFDAC Director General , Professor Mojisoluwa Adeyeye on the 1800 bags of rice distributed to Oyo State by the federal government as palliatives on the Covid-19 pandemic.
Before now, the minister had insisted that the rice were duly tested and certified by NAFDAC, in her reply to a claim by NAFDAC Director General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye that the rice distributed to Oyo and other states were not tested and certified for human consumption by NAFDAC.
Speaking, the spokesperson for the Oyo/Osun Command of the customs, Mr Abiola Abdullahi-Lagos said instead, the officials of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture led by its Permanent Secretary, top officials of Oyo state government duly inspected and certified the rice before onward distribution to Oyo State government.
Wondering why it was only Oyo State government that complained about the fitness of the rice, the Oyo/Osun Command spokesperson gave reason why the controversial rice were not received from officials of Oyo State government on Wednesday, saying that the decision to distribute the rice came from the headquarters, and the decision to receive the rice back would also come from the headquarters.
He insisted that the rice distributed to Oyo State government were good, adding that before the bags of rice were loaded, the officials of the state government were present and inspected the rice before loading process commenced.
He said, ”Actually, the decision to distribute rice is not the Command decision, to take back the rice should not be the Command’s decision. So, the proper channel should be communicated.
“If they communicate to the headquarters, probably the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and we get a directive or an order to receive the rice, fine and good. But, yesterday (Wednesday), we never received any directive to receive the rice.
”And there is no way we could collect the rice back. And mind you, the rice we issued out were good, not bad rice. It’s not that they were humiliated, no. I was the one that attended to them when they came, politely I told them the reason why the rice will not be received, that we have not received any order to receive the rice. And like I said, the rice that were issued out were good ones, and if there is any directive to collect the good rice we will do it.”
On whether the consignment was inspected by the officials of NAFDAC, he said they were not on ground, but the officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, led by the Permanent Secretary and other government officials from Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states were on ground .
”They came with their own team to inspect and certify the same rice and they said they were okay. They were there when the loading process started and ended.
“We also have representatives of Osun and Ekiti state governments. They never complained that the rice were not good, its after that, they decided to do otherwise. The other states of Osun and Ekiti, who also collected these rice never complained, except Oyo that complained that the rice were not good”, he said.