By David Uka Abakaliki
Ebonyi State government has intercepted two trailer loads of foreign rice being smuggled into the State last Tuesday.
The State Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Hon Stanley Okoro Emegha who disclosed this to newsmen in Abakaliki, said the trailer was intercepted by members of Ebonyi State Neighborhood Watch on duty at Afikpo Beach and were taken to the Ministry.
According to Hon Emegha, one of the trailers was loaded with rice and empty cartons of beer as a decoy.
He said the smugglers came in through the Afikpo River which connects Ebonyi to Cross River up to Cameron.
Emegha lamented that smugglers sometimes smuggle in arms in the name of importing foreign rice into the state.
“Some people may not be seeing the security implication of importing rice into the state. The implication is that some people use this avenue to smuggle in arms. If you watch, they go by night and when you search the things in the truck you will discover arms hidden under the bags of foreign rice.
“Hoodlums cannot operate without arms, and they carry more sophisticated weapons compared to what our securitymen are carrying. Most of these arms are smuggled in through this way” he stated.
The Commissioner noted that apart from the security threats the importation of foreign rice poses, it also has health implication, as the rice is preserved with chemicals that are not good for human consumption.
He said before federal government banned importation of foreign rice, the Ebonyi state government had already placed a ban on the commodity in the state.
The Commissioner maintained that the ministry is poised to rid the state of foreign rice because Ebonyi has a better rice.
He reiterated that Ebonyi is capable of producing rice that will feed the nation as it presently ranks 3rd best rice producing state.
Emegha maintained that with the ban on importation of foreign rice that farmers will benefit and in turn be encouraged to produce more rice.
The commissioner who said that four persons have been arrested and remanded by the police for rice smuggling, noted that the ministry was committed to the eradication of all forms of smuggling activities within the state.