The Federal Government has denied the claims that it distributed weevil-infested rice to South West states as part of palliative measures to cushion the effect of the lockdown order put in place to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Speaking at the daily briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said the distributed trucks of rice were certified by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control(NAFDAC).
Oyo State Government had on Friday said it would be returning the 1,800 bags of rice donated to the state by the Federal Government through the Nigeria Customs Service as palliative, on the grounds that the rice had been infested with weevils and not good for human consumption.
Also, there had been claims that the other South West states who also collected bags of rice were planning to return the them.
But the Nigeria Customs service over the weekend denied the claims, saying the rice were in good condition when the representatives of Oyo State Government and the other states evacuated the bags of rice from its warehouses.
Corroborating the Nigeria Customs Service, Farouq said: “On the issue of rice distribution, we distributed the rice to states.
“The trucks of rice were handed over to us by the Nigeria Customs Service and were assessed by NAFDAC, who issued a clearance before the goods were released for onward distribution to the states.
“So, as far as we are concerned, the rice was certified fit for human consumption. We had an issue in Oyo, which was officially reported this morning.”
She added: “But two or three days back, we’ve seen news flying that all the rice we took to the South West and parts of this country are bad.
“And that Lagos has taken its own to the lagoon and that other states have rejected them. I want to say categorically that those are fake news. They are not true.”
The minister said she spoke with the Ekiti State Governor and Nigeria Governors Forum Chairman, Dr Kayode Fayemi, on Monday, who confirmed that the rice was edible enough.
“I just spoke with the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (Fayemi) and he assured me that the ones he received in Ekiti and other states are in good condition.
“Let us be very clear on this issue of rice. We all know that even in our houses if we keep foodstuff, especially grains of that nature in a damp place, they are bound to have a change in colour.
“But that does not mean that it is not fit for human consumption. So, please this is what I can say about the issue of rice and they (beneficiaries) are very happy that the Federal Government is supporting them.”
She also refuted claims that her ministry had diverted N-Power funds for coronavirus response.