THE Nigeria Customs Service has revealed that six containers of ‘poisonous’ Iranian tomato paste, branded as Shirin Asal my tomato paste, have arrived Nigerian seaports for onward clearance into local markets.
The NCS has, therefore, raised the alarm concerning the arrival of the dangerous tomato paste from Iran, urging other government agencies to work with the service in order to ensure it does not get into the Nigerian markets.
According to sources at the ports, the six containers arrived at the nation’s seaports via a ship named Investment Limited, and are awaiting clearance by concerned government agencies.
“We heard that the tomato paste are poisonous. But they have arrived at the ports, and might get cleared except the customs liaise with other government agencies at the ports. You know that most of these government agencies operate independently at the ports.
“The six containers contain products that fall under the jurisdiction of cargoes examined by the NAFDAC. So, if the NAFDAC does not synergise with customs, some of them might just find their way into our markets,” a clearing agent who begged not to have his name in print told Sunday Tribune.
However, in a move to stop the tomato paste from entering into Nigerian markets, the NCS, in a memo signed by the Deputy Comptroller General Tarrif & Trade to all customs commands, warned that all efforts must be put in place.
According to the internal memo which was sighted by Sunday Tribune and entitled: ‘Re: Importation of expired Iranian tomato paste’ with reference number NCS/T&T/I&E/021/S.112/Vol.71, the customs stated that: “It has been reported that six containers of expired and low quality Iranian tomato paste, Shirin Asal my tomato with brix 20-22 instead of the recommended brix 27-29 have been imported into the country by M.T.V Investment Limited.
“Consumption of the paste is said to be harmful to human health.
“Consequently, all Customs Area Controller (CAC) are directed to put appropriate mechanism in place to debar entry of the said paste and liaise with relevant agencies to forestall distribution and consumption.”