By Godwin Oritse
Despite warning by the Federal Government to importers to desist from bringing in stockfish (Okporoko) through the land border, defiant importers have defied this directive and gone ahead to import stock fish through the nation’s busiest border in Seme.
Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report at the just concluded fish conference in Lofoten Norway, a former director of fisheries in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Abiodun Cheke, said that some unscrupulous importers would rather consign their stock fish cargoes through ports of neighbouring countries and remove them from containers, move the fish into trucks and move them into Nigeria.
Cheke, who is now a fishery consultant disclosed that the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, in Seme Border command has been directed to seize any truck carrying stockfish from neighbouring countries adding that the government is serious about monitoring the importation of stockfish so as to ensure that only quality fish products are brought into the country.
According to Cheke, the government is aware that some importers are always trying to beat the law by doing what the government has directed them not to do.
“They (importers) go to Europe, enter into all kinds of unwholesome arrangements and agreement and consign their cargoes to other countries and bring in fish whose quality cannot be ascertained,” She said.
Recall that a truck of stockfish recently fell on the Badagry-Seme road, a development that became a health concern as the rain fell on the fish polluted the environment with an unpleasant odour.
Speaking further, Cheke warned that the Customs has become aware of the tricks of importers adding that the officers are waiting for such importers at the border post with their cargoes.
She said that any of such will first be confiscated, tested for human consumption and if found to be unfit, it will be destroyed and if it is in good quality, the importer will be made to pay the duty he or she is trying to avoid.
The effort to get a comment from the Customs Area Comptroller in Seme Border, Mr Garba Mohammed, was futile as calls to his phone were not answered either were they returned.