The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday pledged to assist Rice Producers Association of Nigeria, RPAN, in stemming the tide of rice smuggling.
According to a statement by the EFCC’s acting head of media and publicity, Tony Orilade, the agreement was reached during a courtesy visit to the anti-graft agency’s Abuja head-office by the members of the RPAN, led by its Vice President, Paul Eluhaiwe.
Mr Orilade said that the Acting Chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Magu, promised to assist the local producers through an existing EFCC/Customs partnership.
According to him, rice smuggling was threatening the Federal Government’s initiative on domestic rice production in the country.
In his reaction, the RPAN’ vice-president lamented that local rice producers were losing millions of naira in revenue to rice importers.
According to Mr Eluhaiwe, the importers are a cartel that ship-in parboiled rice into the country through Benin Republic and Niger Republic, from where the produce are smuggled into Nigeria.
He disclosed that the rice are imported from India, Thailand and Vietnam.
“The smugglers do not pay duties, government loses revenue in the process, a clear case of economic sabotage.
“These produce are inferior to our local rice, but the importers are able to sell at cheaper prices because they do not pay duties,” he added.
“One of the local producers claimed that he used to sell 10 truck loads per day before December 2018, but since then, he is barely able to sell two trucks per day. Consequently, he was forced to lay off staff and reduce the capacity of his mill.
“He has also not been able to patronise those who supply him as a consequence. These experiences, he said, cut across all producers,” the vice-president lamented