The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigeria Customs Service and the Department of Petroleum Resources have agreed to inaugurate a joint committee to tackle petroleum products smuggling.
The agencies reached the agreement at a meeting held at the Customs House on Tuesday in Abuja.
The meeting was attended by the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru; Comptroller General, NCS, Col. Hammed Ali (retd.); and the Director, DPR, Mr Mordecai Ladan.
At the meeting, Baru said that smuggling of petroleum products across the nation’s borders was causing serious loss to the country’s revenue generation drive and had been subverting government’s efforts to ensure an adequate supply of petroleum products in all parts of the country.
He was quoted in a statement as saying, “The negative economic impact of smuggling is that it is undermining Nigeria’s economic growth as a 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 said while the corporation had not relented in 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 seemed to continue unabated.
According to him, available records showed that there was an upsurge in incidents of petroleum products smuggling across Nigeria’s borders in recent months, which was incentivised by the 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 NCS 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 the smuggling of petroleum products.
Ali said working with information on a real-time basis, the NCS would leave no stone unturned to ensure that smugglers of petroleum products were stopped in their tracks.
“We have enough men and resources that can manage the nation’s 4,070km border-line and address this menace once and for all. What we need, however, is information on a real-time basis,” the Customs boss stated.
On his part, Ladan said the DPR was open to collaborations with sister government agencies towards addressing the menace of smuggling.
Ladan, who attributed the surge in smuggling to high arbitrage and culpability of unlicensed filling stations, said his organisation would not hesitate to name and shame the perpetrators in the nearby future.
“As the industry regulator, we are only aware of 1,900 licensed filling stations. We will, however, continue to provide more information for this joint committee to succeed,” Ladan stated.