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How $3bn Nigeria-bound rice rots away in Benin Republic


An estimated $3 billion bags of rice destined for the Nigerian markets are stuck in various warehouses in  Benin Republic due to the Federal Government’s refusal to allow importation through land borders and fierce customs anti smuggling drive.
The annual routine of importing rice into the neighbouring country from July to December to make massive sales in Nigeria during Yuletide period has hit a brickwall this year as Controller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali has insisted that his men have tightened the frontiers.
Nigeria shares major border frontiers with Benin Republic at Seme Border (Lagos), Idiroko (Ogun), Shaki (Oyo),Chikanda (Kwara) and other smaller openings . Prominent among them is Seme where the highest volume of trade and largest smuggling opportunity exist because of its easy access to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital city.
Seme Border which hitherto was a major transit point for foreign rice importation suddenly became impenetrable for smugglers as almost daily seizures of 50kg bags have taken a good portion of the customs warehouse in the area.
A recent visit to Benin revealed that most of the warehouses where the bagged rice are kept before shipment into Nigeria are now battling for space.
Some consignments of imported rice no longer have storage space at the popular stores and so are exposed to rains, weevils and other unhygienic forms of storage.
Popular warehouses no longer receive rice shipments as thousands of bags earlier delivered to them since July could not be evacuated into Nigeria as planned as was the case in previous years.
Popular Cherika Warehouse in Akpakpa near Cotonou with a capacity to store 25,000 bags is fully loaded with Thailand rice with no hope of evacuating them into Nigeria except government relaxes its policy of rice importation through border.
Defezi Warehouse close to the Cotonou Port is filled with over 40,000 units of 50kg bags of Indian and Thailand rice. Defezi got occupied earlier due to its proximity to the port but was not evacuated as the owners could not risk entering Nigeria with it.
Cica Warehouse in Missebo area of the Cotonou outskirts that suffered lack of patronage in the past due to distance from Seme Border and bad road presently has over 15,000 bags.
Some grains are getting moulded, caked with their bags torn and quantity reduced while endlessly awaiting shipment into Nigeria.
As hope of smuggling them into Nigeria gets slimmer by the day, there is a conscious effort to bring in the commodity without using bags.
The unwholesome method requires pouring grains of rice into various compartments of vehicles like the boots, bonnets, inner parts of the doors, under the seats and other spaces meant for spare tyres  and tools.
Sources disclosed that the more the attempt to smuggle hundreds of bags into the country, the more customs in Seme and Idiroko make more seizures.
Unfortunately, some of these grains are no more safe for human consumption and so cannot be donated to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) as was done in the past.
Over 37,000 bags of rice have so far been seized in Seme and Idiroko between January and September 2016 including the 13 vehicles laden with smuggled rice.
From the owners of the rice to the transporters, loaders, landlords and operators of warehouses, there is a general lull as it has been a season of stockpiling without transiting.
They expressed frustration at the government policy but more on what they described as Seme Customs lack of cooperation.
Nigerian Customs had in an October 2016 press statement reiterated government’s ban on rice importation through the borders. The statement signed by Wale Adeniyi, customs spokesman reinforced its resolve to protect government’s attempt to improve local rice capacity.
Part of it reads: ‘’We like to reiterate the position that importation of rice remains banned through our land borders, and we have the commitment to partner government agencies and stakeholders to enforce this restriction. While this restriction is in force, rice imports through the ports are still allowed subject to payment of extant charges.
‘’It is equally important to restate the confidence of the Nigerian Customs Service in the ability of Nigerian rice producers to fill the existing sufficiency gaps in the supply of the product. The service has noted with satisfaction the ongoing rice revolution undertaken by many state governments, and strategic interventions by the Federal Government agencies.’
‘’The service is convinced that the bumper harvests  expected from these efforts will address the supply gap in 2017. It is  our belief that continuous waste of scarce forex on a commodity that can be produced locally makes no economic sense, most especially at a period of recession. The service will therefore advocate a total ban on rice importation into Nigeria with effect from 2017’’
There are loud cries in Benin over what is going on at Seme and other borders. A respondent simply identified as Mr. Sewanu said things have taken a turn for the worse as every attempt to bring rice into Nigeria has failed.
‘’You can see we are idle here because rice is not entering Nigeria through Seme Border. We can’t work. Each day we come here , it is in prayer that the customs should cooperate with our bosses so we can have jobs to do to survive.
‘’By this time in previous years, thousands of bags of rice had entered Nigeria from here and more ships had been discharging at the Cotonou Port. But this year is different, nothing is working.
‘’Seme customs have spoiled the business for us.We don’t want to take the risk of transporting rice through any other border because Lagos is the largest market. Once you enter through Seme,you are already in the market.
‘’If this continues, we may die of hunger. Benin customs in Krake cooperates with us but the customs in Nigeria are our only headache. We want the Controller removed. He is making things difficult,’’ Sewanu lamented.
A visit to the border shows smooth running and processing of imports into Nigeria and there are so much activities in the banks. People were seen paying customs duties for items not on Nigeria’s import prohibition list.
While the stockpiling of imported rice continues to increase in Cotonou and neighbouring towns, there may never be a market for them as they face the risk of either being expired or going bad due to poor storage condition.
Benin Republic with an estimated population of 11 million persons and closest to Togo with a little above 8 million, there appears to be no market for the stocked rice as these countries lack the population and luxury to consume them.
Prices of rice which presently sells for between N11,000 and N13,000 in Cotonou is expected to crash ahead of the Yuletide period as they continually face difficulties in getting them into Nigeria.


FG delists Nigerite from fast-track status

Federal Government, at the weekend, delisted Nigerite Limited from among the companies that have fast-track status. This  followed the discovery of unmanifested  substances contained in a container  labeled CMAU 0451954/0.
Fast-track beneficiaries are firms whose consignments are not subjected to rigorous examinations  by the relevant authorities.
The substance   whose country of origin is Newzerland  was shipped among other consignments such as  cellulous taskman for cement application.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos, the controller,  Customs Area Command  (CAC) of Tincan Port, Bashar Usman Yusuf,  said that the substance was contained in eight bags and each of the eight bags contained 25 pieces of the substances.
“It is a highly-condensed substance. And the container is CMAU0451954/0. It is a one by 20-foot container belonging to Nigerite Nigeria limited. It is processed by Elevation Transactions Limited which is the clearing agent of NPA commercial building, Lagos. It is among other 17 by 20-foot containers. But we picked particular interest in this one because of the intelligence attached to it ” he said
Each of the   200 of the unidentified  items, he said,  would be taken to National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)  for processing.
“The NDLEA will give us feedback so that we know what other steps to take” he said.
However, he said that no arrest has been made until the substance is identified.  But he assured that the penalty ranges from removal from fast track  position to prosecution.
While handing over the substances to NDLEA, the CAC  said the consignment was picked because of intelligence report.
Receiving the items, NDLEA representative, Mr Hashim Christentus thanked the CAC  for the discovery but explained that until the substance is subjected to forensic test he would not know what it is all about.
But the Nigerite’s procurement manager,  Mr J.O. Amata,  said that  his company will  find out how such an item was found among other consignments  in the container.
Nigerite is Nigeria’s largest manufacturers of FC roofing sheets, FC ceiling sheets and Vinyl floor tiles.


‘Tin Can Island Port generated N25.6bn last month’

The various strategic plans aimed at enhancing the revenue collecting capacity of the Tincan Island Port continues to show positive signals with the collection of 25.6 billion as revenue in the month of September 2016.  These measures include but not limited to strengthening and rejuvenating the competence of the critical areas particularly with regard to identifying and blocking all areas of revenue leakages.
The controller stressed that the Tincan Island Port as a Benchmark Command is determined to making the Port a hub, with the entrenchment of due diligence in  all areas of its operations.
He stated further that the place of customs in national development cannot be overemphasized, and pointed out that his command will not renege on its entrenched function of revenue collection/generation irrespective of the present global economic challenge being faced by nations all over the world.
The controller is optimistic that the latest innovation of involving stakeholders in the training programme will restore sanity in the system as well as change the orientation of those who believe in circumventing the process.  He called for stronger relations between the command and stakeholders for the actualisation of expected results.
“Beyond the fact that we have regular meetings with the critical stakeholders, I have always given the terminal/sectional heads a marching order to ensure that all importers/and their agents are compelled to comply with the extant laws on international trade,” he said.
He commanded those he tagged as compliant importers/agents for their deep sense of patriotism which he noted has helped the command in achieving its revenue targets.
The controller further assured that compliant importers or their agents will continue to receive the support of the command and will do everything possible to ensure that they enjoy the full benefit of compliance.
“We will always make them feel  obligated to follow due diligence/process in their transactions.”

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12-year-old boy kills landlady as condition to be initiated into a cult

Ethiope East Local

A 12-year-old boy, who allegedly robbed and killed his landlady at Abraka, Ethiope East Local Government Area, Delta State, yesterday, was among those paraded for various offences by the state Police Command, yesterday.


The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Zanna Mohammed, who briefed reporters on the arrest of over 60 kidnappers, robbers, murderers, cultists and ritualists in the last three weeks, said the teenager confessed that he committed the act because a cult group told him that one of the conditions for initiation was that he must have been involved in a criminal act.

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Super Falcons striker, Asisat Oshoala, comes to Falz defence with regards to statement about glorifying fraudsters

Asisat Oshoala

Nigerian professional footballer, Asisat Oshoala, who plays as a forward in the Chinese Women’s Super league for Dalian Quanjian F.C., took to her Instagram to express deep concern about how people are now proud to be fraudsters.



In Falz’ defense, she insisted fraudsters shouldn’t be glorified.

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Zimbabwean Church leader in s*x scandal as photos naked photos and sex acts with 33 girls is exposed

Church leader
A Zimbabwean church leader, Nyasha Light Nyatsungo is enmeshed in a sex scandal and might also be facing legal action, after his ex-girlfriend flooded social media with his nude photo.
It was gathered that the Nyatsungo allegedly sent a nude picture of his Cape Town based ex–side chick, Shingi Mavenge, to his other girlfriend only identified as Beula who later broadcasted it on social media.
According to H-Metro, in an apparent fit of rage, Mavenge posted a WhatsApp chat she had with Nyatsungo’s wife identified as Nyasha Nhahumbi as well as a group chat with some of her former lover’s concubines.
According to Mavenge, she has gotten information that Nyatsungo has at least 33 girlfriends and has ditched his wife of eight years.
She adds that Nyatsungo bedded a girl who was their neighbour as well.
Mavenge said that the church leader’s wife revealed that they even consulted their local pastor in Mutare who failed in his attempts to mend Nyatsungo’s ways.
According to H-Metro, Nyatsungo, a married father of two, has denied ever circulating the picture, labelling Mavenge as a bitter woman whom he just flirted with on Facebook and nothing more.
“This Nyasha guy must be stopped in his tracks. He is going to pay for all the damage that he has done to me. He was the only one who had that leaked picture and I am shocked why he would forward it to some other girl,” fumed Mavhenge who is working on taking legal action.
“I started dating this guy in 2015 and never knew he was married. He lied.”  fumed Mavenge yesterday.
“That guy is full of lies and at some point, we opened a group chat with his wife and some of his girlfriends. He normally targets single mothers” added Mavenge.
H-Metro was furnished with six other cellphone numbers of his girlfriend that include Fadzai, Mutsa, Essy, Juliana, Barbra among others. Mutsa confirmed she once had a relationship with Nyatsungo have since terminated it since she discovered he was married.
Mavenge confirmed they met once in Johannesburg when she had to fly from Cape Town to meet her man sometime in April.
“That night he didn’t even have money. I had to pay the R800 for the accommodation as he had no money. He wanted to have sex with me but I flatly refused. He even wanted it without protection and I said No. he looked terrible with clothes in a plastic shopping bag. I want to write a letter to Pastor Rex who is the head of (the church) in Harare so that this guy be stopped with his tricks and lies,” added Mavenge.
When contacted over the phone in Mutare Nyatsungo confirmed he knew Mavenge but never had a relationship with her.
“I know her and we once flirted on Facebook. We never had a relationship as she is alleging. I don’t know why she is bitter. I haven’t seen the nude pictures she is talking about but I heard about it from Beula. We live in a democratic country. She can go ahead and sue me if she feels her rights have been infringed upon. All the allegations she is making are false and I don’t know her motive in trying to tarnish my image,” said Nyatsungo.
He said he was still with his wife whose phone rang without response yesterday afternoon. Despite his denials, H-metro was furnished with pictures of Nyatsungo and Mavenge, the time they met in April.

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