Officials of the Nigeria Customs Service have stormed some markets in Lagos in search of smuggled rice.
Their efforts led to the seizure of about six trailer load of rice from shops at the Iddo Railway Terminus.
Some of the rice dealers, who spoke to Punch correspondent, complained that they bought the rice from people who brought them into the markets and had no way of knowing whether it was smuggled or not.
The owner of a shop where the NCS men reportedly seized 5,000 bags of rice was said to have collapsed and was rushed to a nearby hospital.
“The value of rice seized from her shop is over N60m and she took a loan from the bank for the business,” one of the dealers, who pleaded anonymity, told Punch correspondent.
When consulted, the spokesperson for the NCS, Mr. Wale Adeniyi, said the organisation was empowered by law to impound any product suspected to be smuggled wherever such product could be found.
He said, “The rice was smuggled. We got information that the consignment was taken to a particular place and we went there.
“It is a message to smugglers that it is not just enough to bring goods across the border into the country; the goods can be seized even when they are in the country.”
The NCS has set 2017 as a target to stop the importation of rice.