The Acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Adewale Adeniyi, has vowed to crack down on fuel smugglers, saying the nation cannot afford to let saboteurs take over the economy.
Adeniyi made the disclosure on Monday, July 11, 2023, on the sidelines of a sensitisation workshop on the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023 for management staff of the NCS in Abuja.
He said there were still cases of smuggling of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol, at Nigeria’s border stations despite the removal of subsidy on the commodity.
“We have adopted new border patrol strategies to close in on oil thieves,” Adeniyi said. “We will not allow saboteurs to take over our economy.”
The NCS boss’s comments come as the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) announced that it had intercepted a suspected Cameroon-bound vessel with a cargo of crude oil on board.
The NNPCL said in a statement that the cargo was intercepted on July 7, 2023, by a private security contractor engaged by the company, Messrs Tantita Security Services.
The government has repeatedly complained that petrol from Nigeria is being smuggled to other West African countries due to its low price in Nigeria as a result of subsidy, when compared to its cost in these nations.
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 President Tinubu.
However, the Customs CG revealed on Monday that smuggling had reduced but had not stopped in some border stations.
The NNPCL said its preliminary investigations revealed that the crude oil cargo on board the intercepted vessel was illegally sourced from a well jacket offshore Ondo State, Nigeria.
The company stressed that it was important to destroy vessels involved in transporting stolen crude oil, saying the illegal trade of stolen crude oil inflicts significant economic losses on Nigeria and legitimate stakeholders in the oil industry.
“Oil theft also perpetuates a cycle of corruption, environmental devastation, and social instability,” the NNPCL said.
The NCS and the NNPCL have vowed to work together to crack down on fuel smugglers and bring them to justice.