Customs Synergize With NNPCL to Tackle Fuel Smuggling

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…As Operation Whirlwind Records Tremendous Victories

In a bid to conquer the war against the smuggling of petroleum products in Nigeria, the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) Adewale Adeniyi has reassured his commitment to reinvigorate the existing collaboration between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited to effectively combat the smuggling of petroleum products outside Nigeria.

In a meeting with the delegates from NNPC on Friday 5, 2024, at the headquarters of the NCS in Abuja, CGC Adeniyi stated that smuggling constitutes a severe national burden on the Nigerian economy. He said the current habitual that exists in the prices of fuel between Nigeria and the neighbouring countries creates a very huge incentive for smuggling, and that is why NCS, through ‘Operation Whirlwind’ is working with other stakeholders to intensify their efforts in ensuring that smuggling of Premium Motor Spirits (PMS) is brought to the barest minimum.

He said, “The operations that we have done have thrown up a number of issues, but despite them, I am happy we have made fantastic seizures from different parts of the country, and we saw the ingenious ways in which smugglers take supplies from depot and place in their stations. The stations might look empty from the front. Still, directly behind, they have linked the hoses through some artificial holes created in their walls into waiting jerrycans and vehicles from where they take them across the borders”.

Still speaking, he said, “It is an act of economic sabotage, and those that we have seen, we have arrested them, confiscated the product that were seen, we sealed up the filling stations, and we have handed them over to the regulatory authorities to handle. Some filing station operators tactically devise means to smuggle fuel in a way that is not noticeable.

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Adeniyi disclosed that fighting the heinous crime is a significant operation, creating a considerable burden on NCS resources, but it has been a very rewarding exercise for NCS. He said, “We felt that we could have a very good partnership with NNPC for us to sustain this operation over a period of time”.

Expressing his excitement, the CGC said, “We are happy we had a secondment from the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA). But customs need a situation room where we get data that speak on the issue of enhancing our capacity. Also, our personnel will be motivated and taken care of, so they won’t be in a situation of compromising”.

Also, the Coordinator of ‘Operation Whirlwind’ Comptroller of Customs, Hussein Ejibunu, stated that the operation started 5 weeks ago and has recorded great victories. He said, “There is no operation that does not have challenges, and we have been able to put them aside with the help of the CGC. We have tackled fuel smuggling not only in Adamawa but across the nation. We recently showcased about 79000 litres of fuel that was about to be smuggled out of Kebbi state. This is an indication that we are desirous to do the job, but we need absolute support of the border communities and other agencies”.

Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited, stated that the Smuggling of PMS is a major National challenge for the country, and he requested the CGC’s help to minimise the smuggling of PMS outside Nigeria.

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He revealed that the volume of fuel smuggled has reduced drastically due to the establishment and efforts of ‘Operation Whirlwind’. He said, “We are available to provide any necessary support to combat this crime in our borders. We are happy to work with you, and we appreciate you for the enormous impact of your collaboration so far”.


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