The Nigerian government has frozen 45 bank accounts belonging to three companies over alleged rice smuggling, signaling a heightened offensive against smuggling of food products across land borders.
The 45 bank accounts belonging to three companies, Sun Sam A1 International Limited, Sun Sam International Limited and Sunchrist O. Trans Nigeria Limited were frozen by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over alleged smuggling of rice.
The court ordered the temporary freezing of the 45 bank accounts which the companies were having with 10 commercial banks in the country.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the high court directed First Bank of Nigeria, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Union Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Zenith Bank, Sterling Bank, Access Bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Polaris Bank and Eco Bank to freeze all transactions of the firms for 45 days, pending the outcome of the investigation and inquiry being conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Ruling on an ex parte application by CBN’s counsel, Nosike Nicholas, to freeze the accounts for 90 days, Mohammed granted only 45 days. He said the order of freezing for 45 days was subject to renewal for further days upon an application by the CBN in the event that its investigation could not be concluded within the first 45 days.
According to the CBN, transactions under the accounts could cause significant financial loss to Nigeria’s rice industries in particular and its economy in general. The case was adjourned until December 12 for further hearing.
The Nigeria Customs Service, on Monday banned importation and exportation of goods through the borders, daring the ECOWAS protocol and signaling a concern for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which the country ratified in June this year.
In September, the Nigerian Customs sealed 110 car dealerships over of fences relating to vehicle smuggling. It also directed all car marts to begin a process to regularise registration of their businesses. Analysts have posited that the Customs could generate N300 billion from tariffs on vehicles whose duties were not paid and smuggled into the country.