The Nigerian Senate has directed Bashir Adeniyi Acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Nuhu Ribadu, National Security Adviser (NSA) to lift the subsisting restriction order placed on the supply of petroleum products to border communities.
The Senate made this call on Tuesday, mandating its soon-to-be-constituted Committee on Customs and Excise, to ensure compliance and report back to the Senate in four weeks for possible further legislative action.
The Senate’s resolutions came on the sideline of a motion moved to that effect by Senator Solomon Adeola ( APC Ogun West), over the concern raised by the residents and indigenes of the border communities, who he claimed have been affected by the restriction order on borderline communities.
According to him, the policy had brought untold hardship and major losses to businesses.
Senator Adeola, while leading debate on the motion, informed his colleagues that the federal government had on November 6, 2019, through the Comptroller General of Customs directed that “no petroleum products is permitted to be discharged in any filling station within a radius of 20 kilometres to the border of Nigeria.”
He noted that the directive was to checkmate smuggling of Nigerian petroleum products, mostly premium motor spirit, PMS, to the neighbouring countries where there was a thriving market for petrol because of subsidy that was still on the product until May 29, 2023, when President Bola Tinubu announced its removal in his inaugural speech.
“This policy had brought untold hardship and major losses to businesses of the residents and indigenes of the affected border communities, which later made the Nigerian Customs to relax the policy slightly by given license to two or three petrol stations in each of the local government areas that borders neighbouring countries.
“But that remedy was just a drop of water in an ocean scarcity of petrol considering the mass population of the people affected in these border towns and communities,” he stated.
Senator said the suspension order has affected the people living in border communities across Yewaland in Ogun State, particularly in Idiroko axis where he disclosed only five licensed independent petroleum marketers are allowed to dispense the commodity to over 500,000 residents with over 150 dispersed towns and villages.
Senator Adeola argued that “since there is no more subsidy on petroleum products as proclaimed by the President, there is no justification for the restriction order because the price of petrol across the international border has also gone up in line with the new price regime across Nigeria.”
The Senator said that lifting of the restriction order was very necessary now, since fuel subsidy removal by the federal government has substantially put paid to the smuggling of petroleum products at border communities.
Other Senators who corroborated the motion by Senator Adeola also bemoaned the “untold hardships” being faced by the people living in border communities over restrictions on fuel as well as fertilizer, especially in the Northern part of the country.
EnergyDay’s check showed that Nigeria shares borders with several countries in West Africa, including Benin, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania. Some of these countries have been affected by the increase in pump price in Nigeria as they have for many years depended on smuggled petrol from Nigeria.
For instance, The Benin-Nigeria border runs from the southwestern part of Nigeria to the southeastern part of Benin. Some of the border communities include Seme, Idiroko, and Shaki. The Okpara river forms the international border between the Republic of Benin and Nigeria.
The Niger-Nigeria border runs from the northern part of Nigeria to the western part of Niger. Some of the border communities include Chikanda, Maigatari, and Babura. The Nigeria-Niger border is listed as one of the popular cross-border trafficking hubs and routes in the West African region
The Cameroon-Nigeria border runs from the southeastern part of Nigeria to the northern part of Cameroon. Some of the border communities include Ekok, Ikom, and Mfum. The border has been a source of tension due to disputes over the Bakassi Peninsula.
The Mali-Nigeria border runs from the northwestern part of Nigeria to the eastern part of Mali. Some of the border communities include Mubi, Gaidam, and Damasak. The border has been a source of concern due to the activities of armed groups in the Sahel region.
The Mauritania-Nigeria border runs from the northwestern part of Nigeria to the southern part of Mauritania. There are no major border communities along this border.