Fuel smuggling continues despite subsidy removal

Fuel smuggling continues despite subsidy removal

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Fuel smuggling continues despite subsidy removal

Fuel smuggling

Fuel smuggling continues despite subsidy removal. The Customs CG restructures border enforcement and orders a crackdown on fuel smuggling cartels.

NNPCL intercepts a vessel destined for Cameroon carrying 800,000 litres of stolen crude oil.

The Acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi, on Monday, vowed a heavy clampdown on oil thieves, insisting that the nation cannot “afford to let saboteurs take over our economy.”

Adeniyi, who said there were still cases of smuggling of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, at Nigeria’s border stations despite the removal of subsidy on the commodity, said the agency had adopted new border patrol strategies to close in on oil thieves.

He made the revelation on the sidelines of a session in Abuja for NCS management staff on the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023.

Adeniyi spoke as the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited announced on Monday that it had apprehended a suspected Cameroon-bound vessel carrying crude oil.

Garba Muhammad, the NNPCL’s Chief Corporate Communications Officer, stated in a statement that the cargo was intercepted on July 7, 2023, by Messrs Tantita Security Services, a private security contractor hired by the NNPCL.

“Following the receipt of credible intelligence, a private security contractor engaged by NNPC Ltd., Messrs Tantita Security Services, intercepted a suspicious vessel with a cargo of crude oil on board on July 7, 2023,” according to the statement.

It went on to say that the vessel, which was registered in Nigeria, was on its way to Cameroon when it was captured.

“The Vessel, MT TURA II (IMO number: 6620462), owned by a Nigerian Registered Company, Holab Maritime Services Limited with registration number RC813311, was heading to Cameroun with the cargo on board when it was apprehended at an offshore location (Latitude: 5.8197194477543235°, Longitude: 4.789002723991871°), with the Captain and Crew members on board,” it said.

The government had often complained that petrol from Nigeria was being smuggled into other West African countries because of its low price in Nigeria due to subsidies, when compared to its cost in these countries.

To address this and other gasoline subsidy-related concerns, many institutions and professionals urged for a suspension of the subsidy regime, which Tinubu eventually adopted.

But the Customs CG revealed on Monday that smuggling had reduced but it had not stopped in some border stations.

As a result, he stated that the agency was examining its enforcement techniques, and that under the new Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023, violators would face harsh penalties.

When asked if petrol was still being smuggled out of Nigeria after the subsidy was removed, he said, “We still have some incidents in some border stations.”

“The rate has reduced and we are going to be watching the situation very closely. The petroleum situation is extremely delicate, and we cannot afford to let saboteurs take over our economy.”

Enforcement strategy review

Commenting on plans by the service to review policies that constitute obstacles to trade, Adeniyi said this had to do with the enforcement strategies of the NCS, as well as its procedures and processes at the ports.

“One of the things I intend to do as we begin is to review our procedures and processes in the ports and border areas.” In addition, our enforcement techniques. We are going to review all that.

“And we want to do them in such a way that they promote user-friendliness and economic growth without compromising our national security. We will get details when we unfold the plans,” Adeniyi stated.

He stated that the service’s new legislation would impose harsh punishments and penalties on offenders of customs laws.

“We discovered that previous legislation did not provide sufficiently punitive sanctions for violations of customs laws.” Some of the fines were absurd. Remember that this (ancient) piece of legislation was enacted in 1958.

“You won’t believe it, but some fines in the legislation were written on pennies, and when translated, they mean nothing.” As a result, thieves are constantly prepared to commit fraud since they know they will only get a slap on the wrist.

“So what this new law has brought is very heavy punitive sanctions that should deter people from violating customs law,” the NCS chairman explained.

He stated that the defunct Customs and Excise Management Act Cap C45 LFN 2004 statute was enacted 63 years ago and had remained in effect ever since, despite government expansion, population increase, and dynamic economic advances and obstacles.

“As a result of this, several attempts to amend or repeal CEMA have been made in the past, all to no avail.” The efforts were required since the requirements of CEMA had grown outmoded and could no longer adequately meet the government’s current economic policies and the mandate of the service.

“This situation undoubtedly propelled the National Assembly through a private member bill to initiate the repeal and enactment of a new Nigeria Customs Service Bill, which was passed by the parliament and assented to by (former) President Muhammadu Buhari,” Adeniyi said.

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