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Monday, April 15, 2024

Nigeria Customs foils attempt to smuggle food abroad amid soaring prices

Customs Service's Vigilance Reflects Government's Efforts to Tackle Food Inflation and Economic Hardship

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In a bid to curb the escalating prices of food items and address economic challenges, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) intercepted 15 trailers laden with food supplies attempting to exit the country via the Sokoto State border. The intercepted goods, part of ongoing efforts to stabilize domestic food prices, were promptly returned to circulation within Nigeria.

The interception follows the Federal Government’s formation of a committee, comprising top security officials, aimed at cracking down on hoarding practices among traders. Reflecting decisions made at a recent emergency meeting involving President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and state governors, the move underscores a broader strategy to mitigate the nation’s economic woes.

Abdullahi Maiwada, Chief Superintendent of Customs and the NCS National Public Relations Officer, confirmed the interceptions, emphasizing the service’s commitment to averting the outflow of vital food resources. Maiwada noted that while large quantities of food items were intercepted, the focus remained on redistributing them locally to stabilize prices rather than punitive measures.

The intercepts align with the sentiments of agricultural stakeholders, including the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, who advocate for robust government action against hoarding practices. Amidst mounting food inflation, which reached 33.93 percent in December 2023, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, concerns over staple affordability have spurred nationwide protests.

In tandem with these efforts, the Senate recently approved a substantial revenue target and budget allocation for the NCS in the 2024 fiscal year. This funding, allocated for personnel, overhead costs, and capital projects, aims to enhance customs operations and revenue generation.

Jibrin Isah, Chairman of the Committee on Customs, Excise, and Tariff, highlighted the importance of timely policy implementation and enforcement in achieving fiscal objectives. He underscored the significance of strategic initiatives, including anti-smuggling measures and enhanced cargo tracking, in safeguarding national interests and revenue streams.

Furthermore, the NCS is intensifying its Trade Modernization Project, aimed at streamlining customs procedures and embracing technological innovations for enhanced trade facilitation. Controller Bashir Adeniyi emphasized the project’s role in adapting to evolving market dynamics and optimizing operational efficiencies.

As the NCS remains vigilant against illicit trade activities, including food smuggling, officials affirm their commitment to safeguarding national interests and promoting food security. With renewed efforts to combat hoarding and ensure market stability, Nigeria seeks to navigate through economic challenges toward sustainable growth and resilience.

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