The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (retd), explained that the restriction became necessary in order to protect the country’s local industry and enhance national food security.
Ali, who stated this at a joint press conference on illegal rice importation to Nigeria, in Abuja, maintained that land-boarders had always been used by smugglers to bring substandard rice with health implications into the country .
“Protect Nigerians from consumption of unwholesome rice with health implications; protect our economy from unpatriotic elements who are depleting the nation’s foreign exchange through rice smuggling.
“Ensure that the fragile security situation in our country is not further compromised by those who may use it as a means of concealing dangerous weapons into Nigeria.
“Let me therefore start by restating the fact that importation of rice into Nigeria is not banned. What we have is a restriction on the point of entry to our Sea Ports only,” he said.
It may be recalled that in April 2016, the Nigeria Custom Service introduced the ban on the importation of rice through the land borders.
The CG noted that the reversal of the policy introduced in October 2015 was informed by the high level of noncompliance by the rice importers, who resorted to large-scale smuggling of the product.