Customs, NNPC, DPR Set Up Joint Task Force To Tackle Petroleum Products Smuggling
Better times are ahead for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry, and oil marketers may be able to make more profit and the huge menace of smuggling can be tackled once and for all. This is as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Department for Petroleum Resources (DPR), initiated the joint committee to address smuggling of petroleum products to neighboring countries.
The chief executives of the agencies made this known in a joint news conference, after their meeting at the Customs’ Headquarters in Abuja. The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (Rtd), said the meeting was to address the disturbing situation of smuggling of petroleum products outside the country.
Ali intimated newsmen that after briefing by the heads of NNPC and DPR, they resolved to set up a joint task force comprising Customs, DPR and NNPC to tackle the problem aggressively. He pointed out that they have also identified some unlicensed filling stations along the borderline, as key players in the smuggling of petroleum products. And so, the task-force will ensure the closure of such unlicensed filling stations, as well as curb other ways used to smuggle petroleum products.
He said that with the collaboration, licenced filling stations sited along the borders would also be monitored.
“This collaboration is important, we have the force, but we need intelligence and information sharing to deal with this menace, we need a real time intelligence to nip this in the bud. We have 4,070 kilometres borders and it has been a challenge managing these borders effectively, and this underscored the need for us to collaborate with agencies like NNPC and DPR,’’ he said.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru, said he was excited over the intervention of Customs to address the problem of petroleum products smuggling. He also attributed the menace to the unlicensed filling stations along the borderlines, who were taking advantage of the price parity as the products are cheaper in Nigeria, and they smuggle to sell twice or thrice the price they are sold in Nigerian to neighbouring countries.
“For instance, a litre of fuel in Benin Republic is N287.00, N267.00 in Niger Republic, N223 in Chad and N400.00 in Cameroon. This menace of smuggling of our products to neighbouring countries is bleeding the treasury and something must be done. We are happy and also appreciate the Comptroller-General of Customs, for inviting us to brief them on this problem with a view to finding ways to address it. I am glad today, with the meeting we had, we have now gotten a clear road map to tackle this menace of smuggling of petroleum products,’’ he added.
The Director of DPR, Mr Ladan Dantani also stated his agency’s determination to partner with the NCS to tackle the problem. He noted that the problems were identified during their meeting and they would all work together to deal with it. He also pledged his agency’s readiness to provide relevant intelligence and information to Customs to help in tackling the smuggling of petroleum products.