By Yakubu Uba
Yola – Rice farmers, millers, traders and transporters have assured the Adamawa/Taraba Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of full support in the fight against smuggling of foreign rice.
The group made the commitment on Thursday at a stakeholders meeting organised by the command.
The Spokesman of the millers in the state, Alhaji Mohammed Sadiq, said the ban on foreign rice was a big blessing to them.
He said they were now making brisk business and would do all things possible to sustain the closure and expose those trying to “sabotage government’s laudable policy aimed at empowering Nigerians”.
Sadiq, a staff member of Shamad Concept Limited, said that before the border closure the company hardly sold a truck of milled rice in a week.
He, however, stated that now a lot of buyers of its local rice had to book for a week or more to get supply.
“This is a big blessing to millers and other stakeholders and we need not be told why we must support this laudable policy.
“We have the required machines to remove stones, polish our local rice and see no reason some Nigerians should be clamouring for foreign rice that is not even healthy for consumption,” Sadiq said.
A rice farmer, Malam Zakari Yusuf, lauded Customs for the meeting saying that rice farmers would be at the forefront of exposing smugglers and their collaborators who engage in rice smuggling from neigbouring Cameroon.
“We are with you (Customs) 100 per cent and will expose anyone involved in the business of foreign rice,” Yusuf said.
Also speaking, the Secretary General of Yola Modern market, Malam Mahmud Hammanjoda, said the market leaders had commenced massive mobilisation of their members to stop selling foreign rice.
“In fact, over 90 per cent of the rice you see now in the market is local rice as our members no longer take supply of foreign rice.
“We don’t want a situation where Customs would have to storm the market to confiscate foreign rice,” Hammanjoda said.
He said that the market leadership would work with NCS to check anyone selling foreign rice in the market.
In their respective contributions, representatives of various motor parks and transporters in Yola said they had warned their members against conveying foreign rice with their vehicles.
“A man claiming to be a soldier came to our park with one bag of foreign rice to be transported to Kano but we refused.
“He had to go back with the rice,” Dauda Buba, the representative of Long Journey Taxi park in Yola said.
Earlier, the Customs Comptroller in charge of Adamawa/Taraba Command,
Mr Kamardeen Olumoh, said the meeting with stakeholders was initiated by the command for a united front to contain smugglers of foreign rice.
Olumoh said the command was committed to the fight and needed the active collaboration of stakeholders such as rice farmers, millers and others who now smiled to the banks for maximum result.
He said transporters and traders involved in foreign rice business risked arrest and prosecution as well as confiscation of their vehicles, hence the need for them to avoid anything that could ruin their business.
“I want your commitment to ensure that foreign rice is not brought or sold in Adamawa as the command will go to any length to stop it.
“Help me pass this message to all your members that are not here.
“North East is recovering from insurgency and we must avoid anything that would bring tension,” Olumoh said.