Reps Investigates Vaswani Brothers Over N50B Rice Import Waiver
** Controversial Brothers Own Stallion Seafoods, Stallion Nigeria Limited, Honda Manufacturing Nigeria Limited, Honda Place Limited, Popular Foods, Premium Seafoods and Hyundai Nigeria Limited.
ABUJA, November 17, (THEWILL) - The House of Representatives Thursday resolved to investigate an alleged N50 billion rice importation waiver granted Stallion Group by the federal government.
Stallion Group is owned by the Vaswani Brothers.
The decision to probe the waiver was taken at the sitting of the House today after a motion sponsored by Hon. Mohammed Ahmed Wudil (ANPP, Kano).
While moving the motion, Wudil lamented that the federal government has been granting frivolous import waivers to many foreign companies registered in Nigeria without due diligence.
He noted that the federal government had granted Vaswani Brothers import waivers on rice importation totaling about N50 billion through their company, Stallion. He lamented that the waiver caused the government to lose billions of naira.
Wudil said, products on which waiver is granted are usually dumped in the country and such products can hardly be produced in the country locally at the same prices at which they are dumped.
The lawmaker said Nigeria was the largest importer of rice in the world in spite of the fact that the country has arable land favourable for the production of rice. He expressed dismay that some of the imported grains of rice are often expired most times.
Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal who presided over the session moved immediately after Wudil had led the debate. The prayer was put to question and there was no dissenting vote.
It has subsequently mandated its joint committees on agriculture, finance, commerce, customs and excise to investigate the import waiver granted Vaswani Brothers through their company, Stallion in order to recover the revenue lost in the process.
Recall that during the Olusegun Obasanjo democratic administration, the Vaswani Brothers were first deported from Nigeria in 2003 on allegations of criminal conspiracy, tax evasion, money laundering and economic sabotage. 21 top officials of the Stallion Group were reportedly deported in April 2009.
But in 2007, the administration of late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua vacated the deportation order and they were recalled.
However, the Yar’Adua government again ordered their deportation in 2009 following a recommendation from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which had submitted that its investigation indicted the Asians of short changing the government of Nigeria to the tune of about N2.5 billion.
The EFCC had found out during its investigation of the activities of the Vaswani Brothers that they had colluded with some top officers of the Nigeria Customs Service to shield 9 vessels that they used for the importation of rice into the country in 2008, thereby avoiding duties or under paying the prescribed duties for the category of goods they imported.
The Vaswani Brothers conglomerate is made up of: Stallion Seafoods, Stallion Nigeria Limited, Honda Manufacturing Nigeria Limited, Honda Place Limited, Popular Foods, Premium Seafoods and Hyundai Nigeria Limited.