Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
In bid to curb the growing incidents of petroleum products smuggling across the nation’s borders, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), yesterday in Abuja, resolved to inaugurate a joint committee to tackle the menace headlong
The strategic move to tame the malaise was decided at a meeting at the Customs House in Abuja attended by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, the Comptroller General of NCS, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd.); and the Director of the DPR, Mr. Mordecai Ladan.
Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division NNPC, Abuja, Ndu Ughamadu, in a statement, noted that the NNPC boss, revealed at the meeting that, “smuggling of petroleum products across the nation’s borders was causing serious loss to the nation’s revenue generation drive and had been subverting government’s efforts to ensure adequate supply of petroleum products in all parts of the country.”
Baru explained that the malaise also denied Nigerians the full benefits of the goodwill of the current administration.
According to him, “the negative economic impact of smuggling is that it is undermining Nigeria’s economic growth as huge amount of money is spent in terms of under-recovery.
“This huge loss is draining the treasury. Remember, these are monies that could be used to develop several critical sectors of the economy.”
Baru further informed that, “while the corporation had not relented on its efforts to flood the nation’s petroleum products market and avoid shortages at all times, the activities of unscrupulous marketers remained a major concern as diversion and smuggling seem to continue unabated.”
Baru observed: “That available records showed that there was an upsurge in incidents of petroleum products smuggling across Nigeria’s borders in recent months, which is incentivised by high rate of arbitrage, especially considering the high price of petrol in Nigeria’s neighbouring countries”.
While calling for stiffer punitive measures against unscrupulous marketers found diverting and smuggling petroleum products, Baru charged the Customs to intensify surveillance along the identified border communities and other suspected areas to check the activities of petroleum products smugglers.
Earlier in his remarks, Ali said the joint committee was necessary in order for the three organisations to collaborate and find a lasting solution towards halting smuggling of petroleum products.
Ali stressed that, working with information on real-time basis, “the service would leave no stone unturned to ensure that smugglers of petroleum products are stopped in their tracks.”
According to him, “We have enough men and resources that can manage the nation’s 4,070 kilometres of border-line and address this menace once and for all. What we need however is information on real-time basis,” the customs boss stated.”
Also speaking, the Director of DPR, Mordecai Ladan, said the Department was open to collaborations with sister government agencies towards addressing the menace of smuggling.