The Nigeria Customs Service has revealed that the move to close all Nigeria’s land boarder was a joint decision by the country’s armed forces.
The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service Col. Hameed Ali (retd) who appeared before the House of Representatives joint House Committees on Customs and Excise; and Petroleum (Upstream) in Abuja, accused the Department of Petroleum Resources of refusing to furnish the service with data on the approved and illegal filling stations along the borders.
He said that the directive banning sales of petroleum products in fuel stations within 20 kilometers to the borders, though temporary, had started to yield positive results as Nigeria no longer subsidize fuel for the neighboring countries.
The Customs boss said but for the lack of cooperation by the DPR, approved filling stations would have been isolated from the illegal ones.
Ali, while agreeing with the committee that the policy should be reviewed to end the sufferings of the people living in border communities, said stations operating legally would be identified and allowed to dispense fuel in the affected areas.
According to him, the illegal stations in the borders areas had more supplies than those in the city.
He also said large numbers of fuel station were built along the boundaries, stressing that while fuel was discharged at the Nigerian end of the premises, it was dispensed at the other end outside the country.
He said, “The 20km-decision to stop the supply of petroleum is not meant to be permanent but I know that there is a policy in this country that says no petrol station should be established 10km to the borders; it is in existence, it is a policy. It is now left for us to work with the DPR and ensure that this policy is implemented.
“There is no doubt about it that we are losing a lot of money. We must also address the issue of petroleum price equalization. There is no way we can sell petrol at N145 (per liter) in Nigeria and all our neighbours are selling it between N300 to N400 per liter. And you said people will not smuggle this to the neighboring countries.”
Ali queried the high number of fuel points in the border communities where the population was lesser than the volume of petrol supplied.
The Director of DPR, Ahmed Shakur, said about 400 illegal fuel stations were operating in Nigeria’s border communities, in addition to about 923 others licensed to operate there.
The chairman of the committee, Musa Sarki-Ada, directed the DPR to provide details of the fuel stations in the border communities to the Customs boss by Friday, blaming the department for the decision taken by the NCS.