The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Tuesday, sealed warehouses of defaulting rice importers over non-payment of N23.6 billion excess importation levy.
The sealed companies are; OLAM, Stallion, Masco Agro, Ebony Agro and Conti Agro (Milan).
The NCS Public Relations Officer, Mr Wale Adeniyi, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He said “the four rice importers are indebted to the Federal Government to the tune of N23.6 billion.
“This drastic action was taken to compel them to make payment.’’
Adeniyi said series of advertisements had been made in newspapers to make them pay for their excess importation.
He added that an ultimatum was also given to them to pay the outstanding charges, which they did not comply with.
“Today, we are no longer issuing ultimatum. We are ready to walk the talk with decisive action to recover outstanding duty due to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“That is why we have sealed their premises to prevent them from making importation into Nigeria.
“We have blocked them from our system so that they will not be able to make declaration and we will not allow them to discharge their imports in any of our ports.
“All these will be done preparatory to instituting full legal proceedings to compel them to pay what they owe Nigeria when the courts are back from recess.’’
The customs public relations officer said the service was going to work with other agencies of government to achieve this, saying that “an offence against one is an offence against all.’’
He appealed to genuine importers not to exercise any fear as this was not designed to witch-hunt anyone.
Adeniyi said that the exercise was only about enforcing payments that were legitimately due to the Federal Government.
NAN recalls that these importers were beneficiaries of rice import quota policy that specified a preferential duty rate of 10 per cent and levy of 20 per cent on their imports. (NAN)