Drug Dealer’s Punishment For Rice Smugglers
ElevateNews takes a look at the spate at which customs kill alleged rice smugglers.
The present administration will care less about customs killing rice smugglers as far as it’s about protecting the sales of our local rice. It is as bad as this. Hundreds of Nigerians have been killed in the name of rice smuggling, yet the government has not deemed it fit to investigate or prosecute the officers who killed alleged smugglers.
For now, it is easy for the customs to kill an innocent person so far his offence can easily be treated as rice smuggling. The government will not blink an eye over such killing. Rice smugglers are economic saboteurs. They get the same punishment with drug dealers, even though none of these two types of offenders is guilty until the court pronounce them so.
As if they have been given the license to kill, the customs officers, pursue, overtake and kill recklessly on the roads and borders. They are just been overzealous but because there is no trial against their dastard acts, it is Nigerians that must be very careful in the bags of rice they put in their vehicles.
I could remember that a bag of rice was once sold at N5, 000 in Nigeria about 10 years ago. I actually rejected a bag of rice as a Lagos State house correspondent for the Punch Newspaper in 2000. Then, a 50kg bag of rice was affordable. I and many other reporters rejected it because we could afford something bigger than a bag of rice.
Today, rice now has the monetary value of cocaine for smugglers. It was in 2003 that the French Village, Badagry gave some reporters, including me, a bag of rice each for quality reportage of that school. One of us could have brought the five bags of rice in her car but she could not because of customs harassment.
It was one car, one bag of rice. Some of us could not pick the rice at French Village due to the stress of driving to the place and how much a bag cost in the open market close to our homes. But today, a bag of rice from Badagry is worth the stress and transport due to the cost of both local and imported rice.
A 50kg bag of local rice costs between N19, 500 and N22, 000 while imported is about N28, 000. To bring a bag of foreign rice from the Republic of Benin to Nigeria does not cost more than N14, 000 including transport. For a smuggler, a profit of N14, 000 on a bag of foreign rice is a good bargain.
He is ready to take the risk. If he survives the customs, he makes the gains but if otherwise, he may end in hell. The worse part of it is that the customs officers themselves deal in the illegal importation of rice but kill smugglers who fail to rub their palms.
Presently at the open market, rice sellers hide foreign products but it is available only to those who can pay more.