December 4, 2023

Fuel smuggling persists in borders despite subsidy removal – Customs boss.

The Acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi, on Monday, vowed a heavy clampdown on oil thieves, insisting that the nation cannot “afford to let saboteurs take over our economy.”
Adeniyi, who said there were still cases of smuggling of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, at Nigeria’s border stations despite the removal of subsidy on the commodity, said the agency had adopted new border patrol strategies to close in on oil thieves.
He made the disclosure on the sidelines of a sensitisation workshop on the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023 for management staff of the NCS in Abuja.
Adeniyi spoke as the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited on Monday said it intercepted a suspected Cameroon-bound vessel with a cargo of crude oil on board.
The Chief Corporate Communications Officer, NNPCL, Garba Muhammad, said in a statement that the cargo was intercepted on July 7, 2023, by a private security contractor engaged by the NNPCL, Messrs Tantita Security Services.
It added that the vessel, which is owned by a Nigerian registered company, was heading to Cameroun when it was apprehended.
President Bola Tinubu announced the end of the petrol subsidy during his inaugural address on May 29, 2023, after the Federal Government had kept subsidising the product for several decades, spending trillions of naira in the process.
To address this and other fuel subsidy-related concerns, a lot of institutions and professionals had called for a halt in the subsidy regime, which was eventually implemented by Tinubu.
But the Customs CG revealed on Monday that smuggling had reduced but it had not stopped in some border stations.
As such, he said the agency was reviewing its enforcement strategies, adding that based on the new Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023, there would be heavy penalties against violators of the recently passed legislation.
Asked whether petrol was still being smuggled out of Nigeria after the removal of subsidy on the commodity, he replied, “We still have some incidences in some border stations.
Commenting on plans by the service to review policies that constitute obstacles to trade, Adeniyi said this had to do with the enforcement strategies of the NCS, as well as its procedures and processes at the ports.

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