The Senate has ordered the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service and the National Security Adviser to rescind the existing restriction on the supply of petroleum products to border communities.
It was argued that the removal of fuel subsidies by the federal government had effectively ended the smuggling of the products and that they should therefore be permitted to circulate freely and without restrictions.
The Red Chamber urged the Office of the Comptroller General and the National Security Agency to intensify preventive and enforcement measures against all types of contraband in the country.
The resolutions followed Tuesday’s plenary consideration of a motion to that effect by Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Ogun West).
Senator Adeola, while leading the debate on the motion, informed his colleagues that on November 6, 2019, the federal government, through the Comptroller General of Customs, ordered that “no petroleum products may be discharged at any filling station within a 20-kilometer radius of the Nigerian border.”
He explained that the purpose of the directive was to prevent the smuggling of Nigerian petroleum products, primarily premium motor spirit (PMS), into neighboring countries where there was a thriving market for petrol due to the subsidy that was still on the product until May 29, 2023, when President Bola Tinubu announced its removal in his inaugural address.
“This policy had brought unimaginable hardship and major losses to the businesses of the residents and indigenes of the affected border communities, which eventually prompted the Nigerian Customs to slightly relax the policy by granting licenses to two or three gas stations in each of the local government areas bordering these countries.
“However, this remedy was merely a drop of water in an ocean of gasoline shortages, given the sheer number of people affected in these border towns and communities,” he emphasized.
The lawmaker stated that the suspension order has affected the residents of border communities in Ogun State’s Yewaland, particularly in the Idiroko axis, where he disclosed that only five licensed independent petroleum marketers are permitted to distribute the commodity to over 500,000 residents in over 150 dispersed towns and villages.
Senator Adeola argued that “since there is no longer a subsidy on petroleum products, as declared by the President, there is no justification for the restriction order, as the price of gasoline across the international border has increased in accordance with the new price regime in Nigeria.”
All of the senators who spoke in favor of the motion bemoaned the “unimaginable hardships” border residents face due to restrictions on petroleum and fertilizer, particularly in the north of the country.
In a subsequent resolution, the Senate tasked its Committees on Customs and Excise and National Security and Intelligence with ensuring compliance and reporting back in four weeks for further legislative action.