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‘Hold NNPC responsible for fuel smuggling’, Customs boss


Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre

The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), retired Col. Hameed Ali has accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for lack of cooperation leading to the inability of the service to secure Nigerian borders against fuel smuggling.

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Ali made the disclosure recently at an interactive session with members of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance on the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), noting NNPC’s refusal to corporate with customs in critical information sharing has made it impossible to end fuel smuggling.

Ali said the Nigerian borders are too vast and porous for customs to cover and block fuel smuggling without critical synergy and intelligence sharing. This is even as he lamented that his proposal for the NNPC to establish petroleum retail outlets in neighbouring countries to curtail smuggling of fuel has repeatedly been ignored.

The customs boss further alleged that licensing of fuel station outlets around the land borders by NNPC and other relevant departments largely encourages smuggling of the products. Ali who was responding to concerns raised by a member of the committee, Abdulahi Saidu (APC) Niger State, on the increasing daily consumption of PMS in the country said:

Ag ACG Zone B, Uba Mohammed

“We have also proposed to NNPC, if the price differential is the problem, we have our banks, Zenith Bank, GT Bank, operating in the West coast. What stops us?

“NNPC or DPR should establish petrol stations in our neighbouring countries, and move these products at the cost that we sell, and sell to these people. We will make money. “We have the market and by doing so we will completely diminish the anxiety or the penchant for smuggling.

“Because if a Beninoise will get the fuel at the price we are getting and the cost of transportation, which is the minimum, there is no way he will wait for people to import to him at twice the price. We have made this proposal, we have made noise about it, no one seems to listen.”

Pleading the service’s inability to combat fuel smuggling under the circumstances and methods deployed by smugglers, Ali added:

Seme Border Customs boss, Jibo

“There is hardly anything we can do to stop the smuggling of fuel outside the country because they use the creeks, they use land borders, they use virtually everything possible. We cannot be everywhere; we must begin to think out of the box.

“We should extend our petrol stations into these countries. We should move these products there.

“If you recall, when we closed the border, NNPC recorded a drastic drop in fuel that is being released to the public and all of a sudden, we have opened four entrances on our land borders and yet we have seen historical increases in terms of the quantity being reported as being consumed or released.

“I must say, we have very porous borders…very lengthy borders and very porous. Secondly, we have…by the aid of the NNPC created so many filling stations right at the border. And, Mr. Chairman, these filling stations get daily supply, and when they get these supplies, they release the supply in the tank at night, and by the morning, it has been siphoned.

“That is why we said, filling stations that are 20km of the border should not be given petroleum products,” he said.

Accordingly, Ali urged the federal government to probe fuel consumption figure as released by the relevant authorities, in order to establish where and how petroleum products are moved and taking to.

“We must monitor DPR. Are these figures really what are being released? This thing keeps going up and down. We had a series of meetings with the DPR. They said most of those filling stations at the borders are illegal.

Jano/Jigawa Customs boss, Umar

“So, we said, give us the names and list of those illegal fuelling stations, then we will take care of the legal ones. Three years after, we have not received one name. These are the problems.

“There is a law that says that no Nigerian fueling station should be established within 10km to the border. But the DPR will do their survey, they will issue licenses to people to operate there. Our concern is the inflow and outflow.”

Responding to the customs boss claim, the Committee chairman, James Faleke (APC) Lagos State, asked the Customs to furnish it with all the petrol stations within the 20km of the border corridor.

This is even as the Committee said it would use the10-day session to review the MTEF which was submitted to the National Assembly in July.


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