Hussein Ejibunu, the acting comptroller of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), stated that the Federal Government’s decision to forbid the importation of used clothing was motivated by the law supporting the service as well as efforts to improve local clothing production and prevent the spread of disease.
Speaking with reporters, Ejibunu said that in addition to used clothing, the Federal Government also categorically forbids using old refrigerators and shoes.
The legislation that forbids the importing of old clothes is this one.
He said: “The first and major reason why Customs seize used clothes is because it is banned under absolute prohibition list of Schedule 4 of the Customs Excise and Management Act (CEMA).
That is the law banning importation of used clothing.
“Secondly, due to the health hazards associated with the importation of used clothing, the Federal Government does not want it. Nigerians don’t know the health status of those who used most of those clothing before they were shipped here.
“In this period when dangerous ailments like monkey pox are prevalent, bringing in such imports can have dangerous effects on Nigerians.
“One of the very serious health implications of this act of textile importation is exposure of users to skin diseases like scabies and fungal diseases which can be transmitted by wearing unwashed second-hand clothes.
“This is coming at a time when the world is wary of monkey pox whose mode of transmission includes clothing. According to a World Health Organisation factsheet, monkey pox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus. Monkey pox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.
“It is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central Africa and West Africa and is occasionally exported to other regions.
“Thirdly, the Federal Government, in its drive to boost local production of fabrics and clothing, banned importation of used clothing.
“The government wants the local textile industry to enjoy protection and create more jobs for Nigerians from the cotton farms through the textile and garment factories.
“We have factories where cloths are produced in Calabar in large quantities. If the government allows used clothing to keep coming into the country, it will kill such companies in Calabar and lead to further loss of jobs.”