Customs COVID-19 Poisonous Rice: Oyo Govt Rejects 1800 Bags

Customs COVID-19 Poisonous Rice: Oyo Govt Rejects 1800 Bags
The Controller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd)

By Kenneth Jukpor

Despite assurances by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) that only rice fit for consumption would be disseminated as palliatives amid the lockdown, Customs dispersed expired and poisonous rice into Nigerian communities.

Four days after receiving 1,800 bags of poisonous rice, the Oyo state government, yesterday, resolved to return all the bags of rice having deemed the grains of rice to be infested and unhealthy for consumption.

With 920,000 bags of rice distributed by Customs in recent weeks, the Nigerian populace has been jolted as most of these poisonous bags of rice have been accepted and dispersed by several State governments without proper checks following assurances by Customs.

Recall that MMS Plus in a news article titled “COVID-19: Customs Donates 920,000 Bags Of ‘Poisonous’ Rice, Fabrics, Others”, called the attention of the Nigerian public and Customs management when the bags of rice were disseminated without proper checks.

The National Public Relations Officer, NCS, Mr. Joseph Attah said in a press release on the COVID-19 rice palliatives, “It should be noted that only edible items certified fit for human consumption by NAFDAC will be released to the public”

The Executive Adviser to Oyo Governor, Seyi Makinde on Agribusiness, Dr. Debo Akande, who announced the expired Customs rice at state secretariat, Ibadan, said the decision was reached after series of inspections done by the food security committee of the COVID-19 task force.

According to Makinde, the state government discovered that the grains of rice were infested by weevil and other pests, and took the decision in the interest of the health of residents of the state.

In contributing to provision of COVID-19 palliatives, Comptroller, Oyo/Osun command of the Customs Service, Mrs Helen Ngozi, on Monday handed over 1,800 bags of rice each to the governments of Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states, while it handed over 600 bags to the Ondo State government.

“We received this items from the Federal Government via the federal ministry of humanitarian affairs and we brought them here to the warehouse and in it is in the process of further inspection, that we discovered that almost all the grains of rice has been infested by weevil and other pests.

“On that basis, we formed a committee to inspect it again so that we are really sure of what we have received and we think this rice is not is not consumable for human being.

“As such, such material cannot be distributed as part of palliatives in the state. We don’t want to start providing solution to a problem and then create another problem. We have done random selection we see that similar thing applies across board and the committee has agreed to return to its source. And if there is any replacement of good quality that will be sent to us, we will be glad to receive it”

“We are returning all the 1,800 bags of rice. We initially assumed that it was just some part of it that was infested but some commissioners from five or six ministries came with me to inspect and we realised that it is not just some but quite a lot of them were infested. We do quality control of all that we receive it is just that that was received from the federal government that we found infested,” Akande said.

The Comptroller General, NCS, Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd) has repeatedly warned that most foreign per-boiled rice are poisonous with harmful preservatives even as he lamented that some of these bags of rice are expired and rebagged on the high seas.

There is no report from Customs that the bags of rice released for COVID-19 emergency were tested in any laboratory, many of them have been in the government warehouses for years, raising fears of their fitness for consumption as against the CG’s claims on many fora.

The historical trend shows that Customs have been sending these expired products to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and other Nigerian citizens over the years, exposing the public to health dangers.

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