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July 25, 2024

‘Return Seized Food Items to Owners for Sale in Nigerian Markets,’ Tinubu Orders Customs

President Bola Tinubu has instructed the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to return seized food items to their owners at border communities, under the condition that these items are sold in Nigerian markets to enhance food security.

The Comptroller General of the NCS, Adewale Adeniyi, revealed this during a meeting with residents of border communities at Kongolam and Mai’Adua border stations on Saturday.

Adeniyi explained that the president is exercising his authority with a sense of leniency towards Nigerians, deviating from the legal requirements in this instance.

“To that end, he has directed that food items seized in various border areas, intended for export, be returned to the owners on the condition that those goods be sold in Nigerian markets,” the official said.

He emphasized that the NCS will closely monitor the situation to ensure compliance with this condition.

“The seized food items will be returned, and we will ensure they are directed back into Nigerian markets,” Mr. Adeniyi said.

He acknowledged Nigeria’s current food emergency and emphasized that the NCS will continue taking proactive measures to tackle food exportation and prevent food insufficiency.

Nigeria’s Export Prohibition Act restricts the export of specific goods, particularly food commodities listed in its schedule. This prohibition also applies to items outlined in the Customs Excise Tariff Act or any other enactment, regardless of their nature.

The scheduled goods include beans, cassava tubers, maize, rice, yam tubers, as well as all products or derivatives derived from these items, along with all imported food items.

“The Act states that anyone who attempts to remove any of the goods specified in the Schedule from Nigeria is guilty of an offense,” the act partly reads.

This directive is issued amidst allegations of customs officials colluding with smugglers, compromising national security. The Customs boss reiterated the importance of the existing act, noting that a review would be considered once the nation achieves food self-sufficiency.

Underscoring the commitment to monitoring, he assured that food items produced in the country will be retained within Nigeria to curb food inflation by ensuring they are consumed by the local population.

“We understand there are markets around our borders, not all of them involved in cross-border smuggling. We will continue to monitor and ensure that food produced in Nigeria remains and is consumed within Nigeria,” he said.

He explained that since Nigeria is facing a national emergency with food insufficiency, agencies must work together to enforce the various laws that currently prohibit the exportation of food items.

“The Export Prohibition Act specifically disallows the exportation of food items like maize, rice, beans, yam, millet, and sorghum. Food security is critical. If our people are hungry, they may be drawn into criminal activities,” he said.

Mr. Adeniyi urged residents of the border communities to cooperate with the government in implementing the regulations that prohibit the export of food items and other essential commodities.

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