Smugglers of frozen fish risk five-year jail term

Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri

Henceforth, importation of frozen foods into the country without a valid licence would attract a five-year jail term or fine of $250,000. The Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, disclosed this yesterday.

He urged those involved in the act and their collaborators to desist from it or face the wrath of the Federal Government.Lokpobiri stressed that government would also destroy the products and the illegal vessels used for such importation.

He said: “The Federal Ministry of Agriculture has put measures in place to arrest, detain and prosecute offenders as enshrined in the Sea Fisheries Act Cap S4 laws of the Federation 2004. Such persons would be dealt with as criminals and economic saboteurs.”

The minister explained that smugglers were importing all types of frozen fish like tilapia, red pacus, river bream, pangassius, horse mackerel, sardine and croaker through the land borders even though they fall on the prohibited list.

Lokpobiri said the circulation of these unhealthy fish and fishery products have increased the risk of kidney disease and cancer among Nigerians.
He disclosed that the Federal Government had urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to allocate 800,000mt quota for the importation of frozen fish to bridge the 1.2million demand gap.

He added that government was also collaborating with countries in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as the Nigerian Customs Service, Maritime Police, Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Agriculture Quarantine Service (NAQS) to curtail the illegality.

He promised that from next week, his ministry officials would be deployed to inspect cold-rooms across the nation.The National President, Association of Nigeria Seafood, Mr. Lamina Rasheed, said licenced importers, who pay 14 per cent duty on their cargo to the Federal Government were facing a stiff competition from smugglers.

“The smugglers have done a lot of damage to our business. Even though we have huge a stock in the cold rooms, we are unable to sell to our customers due to the activities of these unpatriotic people,” he said.

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Heineken Lokpobiri


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