The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), has disclosed that the service has lost 70 officers to smugglers this year.
Ali said this when members of Rice Millers Association of Nigeria visited on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said the biggest problem Customs had was the issue of smuggling. According to him, rice smuggling is counterproductive to health, adding that the life span of rice is two years.
He said most of the smugglers re-bagged the rice and changed their life span to three to five years.
“The borders are porous and they are long. All the smugglers and rice millers are targeting December, and I can assure you that we have alerted all our men and also working with police, military and para-military to make sure that smuggling is reduced to the barest minimum.
“All we need from you is information, because it is key to what we do; we cannot achieve much without correct information.
“You (millers) have said that you have identified some routes; all we need is the correct information about this route to track these smugglers.
“I was in Benin Republic few months back to speak with Benin customs and identify areas of collaboration and see what can be done to make sure that the trade between us does not jeopardise Nigeria’s economy.
“The Benin economy is dependent on Nigeria and the only thriving business there is the port,” he said.
Ali urged rice millers to work effectively with Customs to complement the area of information.
According to him, “Customs will deploy every possible means to fight because most of these smugglers are highly technically organised.