Nigerian Petrol Floods Benin Republic, Cameroon, Others Sells For N1,700/Ltr

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has said that massive smuggling of Nigerian petroleum products through the land borders have necessitated the creation of a special force for tackling illegal smuggling of the products out of the country.
Speaking on Monday at a press conference in Yola, the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, said the NCS had to join forces with the Office of the National Security Adviser to tackle the menace.
According to him, while the average price of petrol in Nigeria was about N701/litre, the average cost of the product in neighbouring countries was N1,787/litre, a development that heightened PMS smuggling out of Nigeria in the past two weeks.
He said, “Today, we are here to update members of the public on the strategic efforts of the Nigeria Customs Service in addressing the critical issue of fuel smuggling through the recently launched Operation Whirlwind, under the auspices of the Office of the National Security Adviser.
“About a year ago, the Federal Government made the bold strategic decision to remove the fuel subsidy. This crucial step was aimed at freeing up substantial funds that could be redirected to other productive sectors of the economy, reducing pressure on our foreign exchange reserves, and diversifying economic growth.
“The immediate impact was an upward adjustment in fuel prices to reflect current realities. Despite the inflationary pressures and financial strain on households, particularly those with lower incomes, comparative studies still show that fuel prices in Nigeria remain the cheapest compared to other countries in the West and Central African region,” he stated.
Speaking further, Adeniyi said, “While PMS is sold at an average of N701.99 in Nigeria, it is sold at an average of N1,672.05 in the Republic of Benin and N2,061.55 in Cameroon. In other countries around the region, the price of PMS ranges from N1,427.68 in Liberia to N2,128.20 in Mali, averaging N1,787.57, according to the fuel price data obtained from opensource.”
The customs boss said this comparative price advantage, though beneficial to Nigerian citizens, unfortunately, created a lucrative incentive for smuggling PMS out of Nigeria, where prices were two to three times higher.
He said this is substantiated by the report on the average daily evacuation of PMS to various states in Nigeria, obtained from the Nigeria National Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
In his speech, which was made available to our correspondent in Abuja, he said, “The (NMDPRA) report shows significant changes in evacuation patterns that are not justified by corresponding economic and demographic changes, particularly in border states that share contiguous borders with our neighbours.
“Between April and May 2024, Borno and Kebbi states recorded 76 and 59 per cent increases in evacuations, ranking among the top three states. On a year-on-year basis (May 2023 and May 2024), Sokoto and Taraba states recorded the most substantial increases in evacuations, with 247 and 234 per cent increases, respectively.
“Border states like Katsina and Kebbi also recorded more than 50 per cent increases in evacuation. These discrepancies, along with the price disparity between domestic PMS (N701.99) and neighbouring countries (N1,787.57), raise concerns about the actual delivery of PMS and the potential for smuggling.”
Adeniyi said credible intelligence on activities around border areas corroborated these suspicions.
“In response to the alarming increase in fuel smuggling, the NCS in close collaboration with the NSA initiated Operation Whirlwind. This nationwide operation aims to: a. Ensure that Nigerians enjoy the full benefits of fuel price deregulation in line with the vision of President Bola Tinubu.
“Defend the national currency and reduce pressures that may be attributed to the activities of smugglers. c. Identify, dismantle and disrupt cartels of smugglers operating within the ecosystem. d. Raise awareness of the local communities and solicit their support to achieve these objectives,” he stated.
He said the operations, which were guided by credible intelligence and empowered by the new Customs Act 2023, target illegal exportation, particularly of petroleum products, ensuring their availability within the country and conserving government resources.
“Coordinated by a Comptroller of Customs, the operation covers all NCS Zones (A-D), involving selected officers trained and equipped to handle the task with strict adherence to professionalism.
“Collaboration with the ONSA and the NMDPRA supports the operation, utilising internal and external sources. This operation was launched approximately two weeks ago,” Adeniyi stated.
According to him, the NCS had made some significant strides in the ongoing Operation Whirlwind, aimed at curbing the smuggling of Premium Motor Spirit out of the country.
“In the past two weeks we have received credible intelligence on the relative stability of the price of PMS around border states, this is easily attributed to disruptions in the operations of smugglers. Within seven days of intensive operations, a total of 150,950 litres of PMS, valued at N 105,965,391, have been intercepted at various locations nationwide.
“The seizures include: a. On Friday, May 31, 2024. A total of 45,000 litres of PMS in a tanker was seized at Mova, Adamawa. b. On Saturday, June 1, 2024, a total of 45,000 litres of PMS in a tanker was seized at Mubi, Adamawa. c.On Monday, June 3, 2024, a total of 2,375 litres of PMS in 95 25-litre jerrycans were seized at Mubi, Adamawa State.
“d. On Wednesday, June 5, 2024, a total of 4,450 litres of PMS in 178 25-litre jerrycans were seized in three different locations, including Song-Wuroboki, Mubi-Sahuda road and Gidan Madara
– Sahuda road all in Adamawa. e. On Thursday, June 6, 2024, a total of 20,030 litres of PMS in 25 and 30-litre jerrycans were sized in various locations across
the country including Maiha, Adamawa State, Illela, Sokoto and Agbaragba Creek in Mfum border of Cross River State.
“ On Friday, June 7, 2024, a total of 32,900 litres of PMS were seized at border locations in the North-East and South-West axis of the country. A total of 17,500 litres was recorded in Mubi, Adamawa State, while 15,400 litres was recorded around Imeko Obada Road in 616 25-litre jerrycans. g. On Saturday, June 8, 2024, a total of 8,525 litres of PMS were also seized in two separate locations in Owode (Owode-Ilaro road and Owode-Atan road) in Ogun State.”
Adeniyi stated that in addition to the ongoing operations under Operation Whirlwind, the Customs Area Commands remained vigilant against the illicit activities. of smugglers targeting PMS.
He said the service had recorded significant seizures of PMS from unpatriotic individuals attempting to deprive Nigerians of access to fuel and cause unnecessary hardship.
“While the operation continues, our Federal Operating Units and Marine Commands have intercepted a total of 129,185 litres of fuel valued at N90,558,685. Notably, 54.48 per cent of these seizures occurred in the North-West region, including states such as Katsina, Kebbi, and Sokoto, while 23.87 per cent of the seizures were recorded in the North-Eastern part of the country, particularly in states like Taraba and Adamawa.
“It is worth noting that these states have also seen a significant increase in fuel evacuation as reported by the NMDPRA. It is now evident that the recent rise in the distribution of PMS to border states is driven by the activities of smugglers.
“A combined diversion of 280,135 litres of PMS worth N196,524,075.50 raises serious economic concerns with broader implications on national security. The quantum of this diversion is equivalent to more than 84 per cent of the daily evacuation of PMS to states like Ekiti and Jigawa. It also represents around 32.57 per cent of the daily evacuation to the border states of Borno and Katsina according to the data on average daily evacuation obtained from NMDPRA,” Adeniyi said.
He noted that if these activities were left unchecked, they could further deteriorate the country’s economic situation and exacerbate current foreign exchange challenges.
The customs helmsman stated that the influx of unaccounted foreign currency could be channelled into funding illegitimate activities, including the support of non-state actors engaged in criminal activities against the Nigerian state.
“These issues have serious implications for national security, making it imperative to check, curtail, and dismantle these illicit operations. Achieving this requires the cooperation and collaboration of patriotic government agencies, exemplified by the ongoing Operation Whirlwind.
“Under this collaboration, efforts are being made to resolve existing gaps in the following areas: a. Sharing of Critical Data Among Agencies. Ongoing engagement with the NMDPRA and the ONSA focuses on sharing daily data on PMS loading. This will enable the NCS to track the movement and delivery of these products to their intended locations.
“ Monitoring movement of PMS lifting. The NCS will enforce strict monitoring of tanker movements, ensuring that
PMS products lifted from NMDPRA facilities are delivered to approved locations. c. Use of Manual Systems by Independent Marketers. Independent marketers are advised to automate their existing fleet management systems to enable tracking and geo-fencing capabilities.
“Proliferation of fuel stations at border areas. The NCS will collaborate with relevant licensing agencies to manage the proliferation of petrol stations around border areas,” Adeniyi stated.
He said these measures were essential and would be rigorously implemented to ensure strict adherence to government expectations.
“However, in enforcing these measures, we are mindful of the potential challenges they may pose to border communities. Our operations will not obstruct or interfere with the legitimate activities of patriotic citizens in these areas. I will conclude with a stern warning to the perpetrators of these illicit acts: Desist immediately or face the full wrath of the law,” Adeniyi declared.
The Federal Government, on Monday, raised the alarm over the renewed smuggling of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, following the massive hike in the pump price of the commodity in neighbouring countries.
It stated that while the average price of petrol in Nigeria was about N701/litre, the average cost of the product in neighbouring countries was N1,787/litre, a development that heightened PMS smuggling out of Nigeria in the past two weeks.
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi, who disclosed this at a press conference in Yola, said the NCS had to join forces with the Office of the National Security Adviser to tackle the menace.

Make your comments...