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 disclosure on the sidelines of a sensitisation workshop on the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023 for management staff of the NCS in Abuja.
Adeniyi spoke as the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited on Monday said it intercepted a suspected Cameroon-bound vessel with a cargo of crude oil on board.
The Chief Corporate Communications Officer, NNPCL, Garba Muhammad, said in a statement that the cargo was intercepted on July 7, 2023, by a private security contractor engaged by the NNPCL, Messrs Tantita Security Services.
“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,” the statement read in part.
It added that the vessel, which is owned by a Nigerian registered company, was heading to Cameroun when it was apprehended.
“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.
President Bola Tinubu announced the end of the petrol subsidy during his inaugural address on May 29, 2023, after the Federal Government had kept subsidising the product for several decades, spending trillions of naira in the process.
The government had repeatedly complained that petrol from Nigeria was being smuggled to other West African countries, due to it 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 Tinubu.
But the Customs CG revealed on Monday that smuggling had reduced but it had not stopped in some border stations.
Written by: Kevin Nwabueze