Why Thailand And India Rice Exporters Are In Trouble Getting Their Par Boiled Rice Smuggled Into The Nigerian Markets As usual

By Stephen Ubanna

This is not the best of times for the foreign rice smugglers  who do so through the illegal routes  along the Land border Communities between Nigeria and Benin Republic, Watersides and Creeks in the south west states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo Osun and Ekiti   particular, in order to supply  the dealers   at the Lagos markets of Alaba International market, Mile 12, Daleko and Mushin.

     This is because the Federal Operations Unit,FOU, Zone A, under the close watch of Usman Yahaya, and other interventionist Commands in the region,  appear to have taken the anti-smuggling war to smuggler’s den in the states. The Interventionist Commands intensified  anti-smuggling war, The Value News  Magazine  findings, shows  had injected fears on the local  dealers who are no longer interested in placing order with the smugglers  for foreign rice supplies for fear of playing into the Customs Interventionist Commands Patrol Teams.

Working According To The Mandate Of Ali, The Customs Comptroller General

 The drop in demand for the Par boiled rice in the Central African country of Cameroon, which are shipped into the country through the port of Doula, or the West African countries of Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana and cOte d’Ivoire. The par boiled rice ship shipments to Benin, for, instance , are made through the Autonomous port of  Cotnou, Benin and Bollore port.The drop in the demand, in the Central African country of Cameroon and the other four West African countries,  appear to be telling  on the Thailand   rice exporters Association, particular, Thai Rice and Food Co. Ltd &Thai Commodity Exporters.

The worst hit, according to informed sources are the Thai Rice  and Food , TRF, described as   the largest privately owned  Thailand  rice and export Commodity Exporters, which thousands of  its ‘’40’’ Containers loaded with parboiled rice and which had been  loaded into MSC vessels, and other major  International Shipping  shipping Lines , are read in  the ports  of Bankok, Laem Chabang, Map Ta Phut , Ranong, Phket, Songkhla, Sattahip and Si Racha, while  some  are still on the high sea, awaiting for the green light  to  enter into the Autonomous port of Conotonou, Benin, and Bollore port,  in Benin Republic and  other ports in the West African sub-region to discharge .

The situation is not different from what is happening in another Asian country of  India, and major, par boiled  and agric- rice suppler to Cameroon and  four other  West African countries which are  smuggled into the Nigerian markets through illegal routes.

 The recent congestion  at the Kakinada Anchorage port, the country’s biggest rice handling  facility , to a waiting period of up to four weeks, compared to normal waiting  period of a week, to ship, it to  the two ports in Benin Republic and other ports in the West African sub-region,  may have made the Indian par boiled rice farmers in the  in the  in the state of Andhra Pradesh  to resort to the use  of   the state owned  deepsea port to export their  parboiled and agric- rice to their Cameroon, Benin, Togo, Cotd’Ivoire and Ghana major importing firms on Credit, thus turning the ports as a dumping ground for foreign rice.

The India government had blamed the congestion at the Kakinada Anchorage port,  on the surge   in the demand ,for the country’s par boiled rand Agric-rice ,driven  by the production shortfalls  in Thailand and Vietnam, production, which other big  time  foreign rice exporting countries.

In spite of the Indian farmers three months protest   the government is optimistic    that the country’s par boiled and Agric-rice  exports  to Benin Republic and other countries in the world,  would rise  by two  to three million  this 2021.

 The government has targeted  to export  16 million to 17 million tonnes  this year as against  14.2 million to their Chinese, Benin Republic and other oversea customers in 2020. This may have informed why the India  Authorities had said that ‘’the monthly   rice shipments  from the Anhdhra Pradesh seaport  would double 650 tonnes this fiscal year.

The government may have targeted such bumper  rice exports because of the changes introduced in the sales of farm produce as a result of the farmers protest. One of such changes was that  farmers  are now allowed  ‘’to sell  their produce  at a market price  directly  to private buyers- agricultural  businesses, Supermarket chains and online grocers. At present, most farmers in India,  sell most of their produce  to the India government- controlled whole sale markets  or mandis  at assured floor prices.

These markets, The Magazine was informed  are run by Committees  made  up of government appointed farmers, who are mostly  Commercial farmers,  traders or Commission agents who act as middle men  for brokering sales, organizing storage and transport and even financing deals. The reforms

, though on paper, analysts said,  will the farmers  ‘’the opportunity  of selling their produce   outside  the government  mandis system’’.

Given that that the sales of  par boiled rice and varieties of rice may  no longer controlled by the Indian government  may have raised fears in both official and unofficial sources that the country’s facilities for  handling rice exports would be over flooded by too many  buyers .  

  Acting on intelligence report recently, the FOU, Zone A, Operations and Lagos Roving Team, headed by Jack Okpabi , an Assistant Comptroller,  who had Coordinated a Patrol Team operations from his Ikeja office, that raided the Lagos –Badagry axis on Tuesday, February,16, 2021 and  Wednesday, February17, 2021, to forestall and intercept a Convoy  of  vehicles , allegedly put at  54  loaded with foreign rice and poultry products from entering the Lagos markets, had raided  the Mile 12 , market on Friday, February19, 202

.1An eyewitness account  disclosed  that  the Yahaya boys who had a mandate to seize all the bags of foreign rice of 50Kg each,  found in the market were said to have succeeded in loading their vehicles with 600 bags of such rice and 70 kegs of 25 litres of vegetable oil which were said to have been transferred to the Government warehouse, Ikeja.

 The source disclosed that the Team could have loaded more bags of par boiled rice of the 50Kg each into their Operational  vehicles but from the market but for the fact  that the  information about   their Operations in the marked had leaked out, forcing   many of the foreign rice  dealers to lock up their shops, laving the entire market virtually empty.   

Mile 12 Market In Lagos: Raided By FOU, Zone A, Operations And Lagos Roving, Patrol Team

Last January, the Yahaya boys had raised the International market  where the foreign  rice  dealers receives their supplies  from the  market waterside  which are transferred to their various warehouses around the market. The Alba International market  foreign rice dealers  are still having  difficulty resume normal business  as they make effort through their leaders to reach out  to Yahaya, the Command Comptroller, and  AC.Jack, who had  led the operations , but no luck.

With the Team  successful raid of the Alaba Intenational, and Mile 12, markets, fear has gripped the Daleko or Mushin foreign markets. Investigation shows that these Thailand and Indian par boiled and agric-rice , are delivered in tNigeria,  in canoes  which are discharged in villages  along the watersides or Creeks. It is on record  that the riverine Community of Ikpkia, which had been a major channel  for smuggling  in foreign rice and poultry products, in the country remains a major of supply of these Contrabands to these markets.

Yahaya, was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that he is working according to the mandate of Hameed Ali, a retired army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, that foreign rice must not be allowed to enter into the Nigerian market to compete with the locally produced rice which are still been struggled .

A visitor to the FOU, Zone A, Ikeja premises, on Friday, February 19, 2021, would be very  surprised  at the number ofvehicles loaded with rice  parked in the premises. It could not  be ascertained  whether the four vehicles which were cited by The Magazine were part of the Vehicles intercepted by the Command Operations and Lagos Roving patrol team that went  out on operation along the Lagos-Badagry Express way  on Tuesday, February 16 and Wednesday, February 17, 2021. Efforts to speak to Yahaya, the Customs Comptroller proved abortive. As at press time, the contents of the vehicles are yet to be discharged and transferred to the Government warehouse for documentation.  

A source told  explained that Mohammed Jibo, Comptroller, Seme Command,had mobilized his men at Seme and Owode axis in are doing everything within their power to ensure that the smugglers operating in the area are fully blocked. The at Agbara incident , where  FOU, Zone A, patrol Team, had confronted  smugglers  along the Seme-Badagry   Express,  may have opened his  eyes  that a lot still need to be done to cage the smugglers.

Jibo: Restrategised In Dealing With The Unrepentant Smugglers, Seme Government Warehouse Filled To the Brim With Seized Foreign Rice And Other Items

 Aware that there is  no way the  smugglers who had escaped arrest  of FOU, Zone A, anti-smuggling Officers, could have  returned to Seme or Owode  border Communities with their vehicle loads of foreign rice  and poultry products  to enter Cotonou, Benin republic, without running into trouble with his men . This may have informed  why he had given a matching order To Adahunson Rashid, a Deputy Comptroller and the head of the Command Enforcement Unit  to comb the nooks and crannies of Badargry south west  to locate the vehicles loade with the Contraband in their hideouts in order to launch an attack  to carry them to the Command premises.  The Command may have  engaged the services of the Youths  and the Baales, who are helping out, an indication that there is no hiding place for the smugglers.

Many believe that Smugglers may be having their way in different parts of the country, because of the araldite hand of  Ali, the Customs, Comptroller General in approving  money  for Service, anti-smuggling operations. forcing the Commands and Adhoc Teams to go through pains to fund their anti-smuggling Operations throughtout the country.

    Recall that  late Abdullahi Dikko, a Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs service   had  said in an interview  that during his tenure, the Service spent   over 500 million yearly  to fight the anti- smuggling war  . With such an investment, he had said that  the Area Comptrollers of the interventionist Commands were able to reach out to the people  and successfully blocked the borders, towards leading to high level of Compliance.

  The form Customs Comptroller General, now dead, may have been  forced to make such huge  investment in combating  smuggling activities in the country   because of ‘’the immense influence  of security operatives, political and traditional rulers, particular, the Youths in the border Communities and which is still happening  till date.

 Many believe that  Jibo, the Area Comptroller, of Seme Command, may have learnt a lot from Muhammed Ubah Garba, a former Comptroller of Seme Command   and now, Acting Assitant Comptroller General Of Enforcement, Inspection& Investigation and the Late  Dikko, in terms of reaching out to the border Communities   to have a  friendly relationship with them.Take for instance the construction four public toilets and two bathrooms for the travelling public in J5 Community and also plans to raise  of a football call for the youths in the area as a way of  attracting  their support  in giving out information freely  on the smugglers operating  within  the Seme jurisdiction which is under  the control of the Command.  This may  have helped  the Command in recent time in the  fight against  vehicle and foreign rice smugglers to a large extent and thus, achieving results. 


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