BY MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja
Following their call on the Nigerian Customs Service to return the smuggled goods it impounded from rice trader’s shop in Ibadan, Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) has called on the Senate committee on ethnic, privileges and public petition on to revisit their decision and look at the matter from economics prism and ensure that personal biases are eschewed if we must make progress.
Director-general of RIPAN, Andy Ekwelem made the call on the Senate yesterday at a press conference in Abuja. The Senate had concluded that the Custom Services erred by raiding the market in Ibadan and confiscating smuggled rice packed in various shops.
Ekwelem said RIFAN that was shocked and disappointed by the Senate directive to Customs, saying the and instruction given to the Nigeria Custom Services, counteracts the resolve of both the Nigerian government and people of the country to grow local capacity in rice sector to achieve food sufficiency.
Ekwelem said: “Over the past years, the Nigerian Custom Services have borne blames over smuggling of food items especially Rice. Each time the menace rises, stakeholders fall over themselves blaming the Customs. In several fora and events, even those who do not understand security management will postulate ways via which the Customs can do their jobs more effectively.
“This instruction is nothing but a tacit support to smuggling and it leaves much to be desired. It also to a very large extent paints a picture of insensitive to the plight of the Nigerian investor.
“The members of the RIPAN and indeed all actors in the entire rice value chain are patriotic individuals who hearken to the invitation of the Federal Government of Nigeria for private sector investments in the Rice processing sector in particular and the Rice Value Chain in general. These individuals have invested trillions of Naira and are currently providing millions of employments (both Direct and Indirect) to the teeming Nigeria labour force.”