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By Innocent Orok

The Nigeria Customs Service, Oyo/Osun States Command has denied giving out 1,800 bags of weevil infested rice to the Oyo state government as palliatives as allocated to it by the Federal Government, through the NCS.

The Customs through a statement from
ABDULLAHI-LAGOS ABIOLA, PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER OYO/OSUN AREA COMMAND dated 25th APRIL, 2020 denied the news making the round in the Social Media that the Oyo state government has rejected the 1800 bags of rice due to its weevil infested nature and will return it back to the Customs.

Abiola in his statement, said ” The attention of the Oyo/Osun Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has been drawn to some mischievous and deliberate falsehood being circulated in the media for reasons best known to their author (s) concerning the Federal Government palliatives given to Oyo State among other states.

“As a responsible agency of Government whose functions include ensuring that nothing that could compromise the security, economy and general being of Nigerians are allowed into the Country, we can not turn round and be associated with giving anything that will negatively affect our people. We therefore wish to state as follows:

” That in line with the Federal Government’s effort to cushion the hardship in the nation, the CGC had directed the distribution of relief items including bags of rice across the nation through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management as palliatives to the vulnerable in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

“As instructed, on the 20th of April 2020, the Oyo/Osun Area Command received high ranking members of the Oyo State Government in the persons of the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Jacob Ojekunle; the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs Saidat Bolatumi Oloko; Executive Adviser to the Governor on Agribusiness, Mr Debo Akande; The representative of Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management and Social Development in Oyo, Mrs MO Lasisi and other members.

“They visited the command twice on the same day to inspect the bags of rice that were available for allocation.
The Customs Area Controller, Comptroller, HU Ngozi led them to the warehouses where they inspected the products , checked expiration dates and expressed satisfaction and readiness to evacuate their allocation. ”

The statement further explained that
before the team left the command, on their second visit, they pleaded to be given those from a section of one of the warehouses they considered “fresher” and this was granted.

“Subsequently, on the 21st of April 2020, the Oyo State Government team came with their vehicles under the supervision of Mr Jacob Ojekunle, Mrs Saidat Oloko, Mrs MO Lasisi and other top officials, in the presence of the Customs Area Controller, other officers and members of the press to witness the loading and exiting of the 1800 bags of parboiled rice allocated to their state as palliatives to the vulnerable .

“Incidentally, in the process of loading, few bags fell at different times and bursted open in the presence of Mr Ojekunle and Mrs Lasisi and there was no anytime that any of the busted bags of rice had weevils in them. The warehouse had no signs of weevils, neither were there signs of weevils on the loaders or on the trucks under the scorching sun.

“The three (3) states; Oyo, Osun and Ekiti States took delivery of the bags of rice allocated to them, returned their landing certificates to show delivery to its final destinations. They also showed appreciation to the CGC for his magnanimity.
Contrary to allegations by Oyo State Government, Osun and Ekiti States have not complained about their allocations”.

The Oyo/ Osun States Customs Command said it is surprised and embarrassed to hear that , three days after taking delivery, the Oyo state government is complaining of having been given weevil infested rice.

” The Command is therefore surprised, even embarrassed to hear three (3 ) days latter, that most of the quantity of rice allocated to them were infested with weevils and unfit for human consumption.

“The command wishes to reiterate that weevils do not hide and in the process of loading the vehicles, traces of weevils would have been noticed on the floor, on the bags, on the loaders or on the trucks bearing in mind that the entire process was in the presence of the CAC, Oyo State Government’s high ranking team and men of the press with full video camera coverage.

“The Command is also aware that for whatever reason, some pictures of bad rice have been circulating in the social media. We disassociate ourselves from such false images and we suspect foul play on the part of the handlers of these allocated 1,800 bags of rice.

The State Government may wish to dig deeper. It is surprising how bags of rice that exited the Command headquarters in good condition suddenly became so bad after three days as being circulated in the social media”. The release said.

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