The Nigeria Customs Service has suspended supply of petroleum products to petrol stations within 20 kilometres of all the border posts.
The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali ( retd.), gave this directive to all commands through the Deputy Comptroller- General Enforcement, Inspection, and Investigation, Agustine Chidi, late Wednesday in Abuja.
He stated that petroleum tankers must not be allowed to discharge content within 20 kilometres to borders.
But residents of border communities, who spoke to our correspondents on Thursday, expressed concern about the government’s directive.
They said the decision would worsen their suffering.
However, reliable sources disclosed that petroleum products were still being smuggled at the borders
Ali had in a letter dated November 6, 2019, titled, “EII/2019/Circular No 027 suspension of petroleum products supply to filling stations within 20 kilometres to all borders,” ordered all customs zonal coordinators, Operation Swift Response and other sector heads to effect the suspension of sale of petroleum products at borders.
The letter stated, “The Comptroller-General of Customs has directed that henceforth no petroleum product no matter the tank size is permitted to discharge fuel in any filling station within 20 kilometres to a border. Consequently, you are to ensure strict and immediate compliance please.”
The Federal Government had on August 18, closed borders between Nigeria and its neighbours, citing massive smuggling and illegal immigration as the reasons.
On Monday, it gave conditions for the reopening of the borders. It said Nigeria would no longer accept repackaged imported goods from its neighbours. The Federal Government also insisted that all aliens coming into the country through the land borders must have travel passports.
Unions in the oil sector supported the government’s decision. The General Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Afolabi Olawale, said the union was in support of the suspension of the supply of fuel to border filing stations.
He said the number of filling stations within 20 kilometres radius of Nigerian borders were more than the number of filling stations inside the towns.
Olawale said, “One wonders what economic motive drives the establishment of such a large number of filling stations close to the border.
“The only explanation would be that they are being used as a conduit pipe through which smuggled petroleum products are taken out of the country.”
He said the effect of the action would not be felt by Nigerians, adding that 10 litres of fuel were enough to drive around 20km distance.
“We are in full support of the move. It is in continuation of the efforts to stop the smuggling of petroleum products and other goods across the borders.” He added.