As the battle to defeat the dreaded COVID-19 rages, the Nigeria Customs Service on Tuesday opened its various warehouses to release seized foodstuffs worth over N3.5 billion to states for onward distribution to vulnerable households as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The food items include; 158 trailers of 50kg parboiled rice (46,000 tons), 30 trucks containing 36,495 kegs of 25-litre vegetable oil, a truck containing 3,428 kegs of palm oil, 54 trucks containing 136,705 cartons of tomato paste, two trucks of spaghetti/noodles, one truck containing 828 bales of ankara fabric and a truck of 2,300 rolls of lace fabric.
According to the Spokesman of Customs, Joseph Attah, who made the disclosure in a statement said the duty paid value of the items is N2.03 billion.
According to him, only edible items certified fit for human consumption by the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) will be released to the public.
Attah, while appreciating the public’s concern for the Service to release seized food items to the public at a time like this, explained that in line with the provision of section 167(2) of CEMA CAP C45 LFN 2004, seized items upon condemnation and forfeiture to the Federal Government by a competent court of jurisdiction are kept in government warehouses pending government directive on its disposal.
He said: “Reacting to pains associated with the effects of the lockdown in some parts of the country, some Nigerians have taken to the social media to call on Nigeria Customs Service to share seized rice and other edible items to members of the public.
“While some of these calls appear well intended, others had attempted to create the impression that Customs officers have the liberty to use seized items as they deem fit. Some even mischievously impugned that the items may have already been shared to cronies. Nothing can be further from the truth. “NCS remains committed to strictly adhering to all extant laws governing seized and overtime cargoes.