- Rice Smuggling Thrives in Lagos, Ogun, North
Rice smuggling through land borders is still high despite its ban, a report has shown.
The commodity, which is a staple food in the country, is being brought through the land borders in Lagos, Ogun and part of the North.
From Idi-Iroko to Owode, Alapoti, Atan and Sango Ota, all in Ogun State, smugglers use bush paths to convey the commodity.
The smugglers, sources said, are cashing in on the high price of rice to bring it at a cheaper rate.
Rice is sold for N14,000 per bag. But the smuggled product goes for between N12,500 and N13,000 per bag.
The smugglers are said to be conniving with some Customs officers.
The smuggled rice is transported with motor cycles, buses and specially-refurbished vehicles.
A trader at the popular Lusada Market in Ado-Odo,Ota, Ogun State, who refused to give her name, gave reasons why the trade is booming.
“I lost a lot of money when the vehicle bringing my rice to Lagos was impounded by Customs in April, along Seme border. The period was very bad for me. But in June, my friend introduced me to a man who will help me in the rice business through the Ado-Odo area and I decided to try it. My experience is that there is not much Customs attention on rice in this area, and the profit we make is higher.
“If you use Seme axis, the highest profit anybody can make on rice is between N200 and N250 per 50kg bag, while we make between N500 and N600 on 50kg bags of rice through Lusada,” she said.
She said the demand for rice is high, adding that “business people” continue to travel long distances from inland towns and risk being arrested to smuggle rice.
Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, she said men and women flock to Cotonou and other neighbouring countries to buy rice and smuggle them in, mostly on Sundays.
Investigation revealed that there are no Customs’cheek-points between Agbara and Atan and from Lusada to Alapoti and Ado-Odo Ota.
There is no effective policing of the paths leading to the border by Customs to check the menace.
The Customs, it was learnt, must strengthen its patrol to track down the smugglers.