By Titilope Fadare
OrderPaperToday– The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki,  has declared war on those smuggling  rice and other food items into the country and  called for  the probe of relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)  in a bid to sanction perpetrators of the crime.

Saraki made the call on Monday at the opening ceremony of a one day Public Hearing organized by the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tarrif.

Speaking at the hearing which has its theme: Smuggling: A threat to Nigeria’s quest to Self-sufficiency in rice production’,  Saraki  noted that the deadly acts have caused epidemics and untimely deaths of many Nigerians.

He also expressed regrets that  local producers are faced with many obstacles and challenges due to the activities of the smugglers

He said: “A sanitization of the local rice production industry will in line with our legislative agenda encourage government’s effort on the diversification of our economy. The impact of the outcome of this exercise on our local industry is huge as it will most definitely increase local rice production.

“Another issue here, is the great health concerns. No doubt, smuggling activities have brought about the importation of unwholesome foods into our country, causing ill health and even deaths to our citizens. Nigerians deserve the best in what we consume and we must safeguard the health of our citizenry.”

The lawmaker urged the participants and stakeholders to partner with the Senate and draw up recommendations that would be forwarded to the executive arm of government for prompt intervention.

The stakeholders include the Nigerian Customs Service, the Nigerian Immigration Service, the Nigerian Shippers Council, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the National Agency for Food and Drugs Control  (NAFDAC), among others.

It could be recalled that, the Senate, during its plenary of Tuesday, 13th June, 2017, debated on a motion sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tarrif, Hope Uzodinma, and unanimously resolved on the need to investigate and unearth those behind smuggling and illegal importation of rice and the operations of the Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS).

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