By Innocent Orok
The Nigeria Customs Service has join other government and private organizations who are providing relief materials to Nigerians during this period of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19) has necessitated various and continuous actions by government at different levels to prevent/stop the spread of the virus in Nigeria.
According to a statement issued by the NCS, signed by its National Public Relations Officer, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah, the Service is reacting to the pains associated with the effects of the lockdown in some parts of the Country occasioned by the Covid19 pandemic.
The statement reads ” 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.
“It is therefore necessary to explain 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.”
The statement said “accordingly, in compliance with the Presidential directive, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col, Hameed Ali (Rtd) has already approved the release of the following relief items to boost the Federal Government continuous efforts to alleviate sufferings associated with the painful but necessary ongoing lockdown in some parts of the Country.”
The items includes, Rice 46,000 metric tons (158 trailers), vegetable oil 36,495kegs (30 trucks), palm oil 3,428 kegs (1 truck), Tomatoes paste 136,705 cartons (54 trucks), Spaghetti/Noodles 2,951ctns & 1,253pkts (2trucks). Others are wrappers (Ankara) 828 bales (1truck), lace fabric 2,300 Rolls (1 truck). The items were estimated to have a market value of N3,251,806,000.00 with Duty Paid Value of N2,034,954,765.00.
The Customs noted that only edible items certified fit for human consumption by NAFDAC will be released to the public.
“As a responsible agency of government, NCS appreciates the opportunity of contributing its quota to Federal Government’s continuous efforts to provide relief for Nigerians in this difficult time. NCS remains committed to strictly adhering to all extant laws governing seized and overtime cargoes. Despite the prevailing risks, the Service will continue to discharge its functions of securing the land borders and collection of revenue that is needed during and post Covid- 19 pandemic period.”
The Service however urge its Officers and Men to remain focused on service delivery, while the CGC reminds the operatives and all Nigerians on the need to obey all directives of government and medical experts to stop the spread of the deadly virus.