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Petrol smuggling: Customs doubt NNPC’s 98m litres daily supplies claim

The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali, has faulted the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd over the claim that it supplies…

The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali, has faulted the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd over the claim that it supplies about 98 million litres of petrol for the country on a daily basis while putting the actual consumption at 60 million litres per day.

Ali spoke on Wednesday while responding to questions from members of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance who had asked him how the Nigeria Customs Service was tackling the smuggle of petrol outside the country.

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The Customs boss was before the committee for an interactive session on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for 2023-2025.

However, Ali blamed NNPC Ltd for some of the infractions in the country’s oil sector, saying the issue was not all about the smuggling of petroleum products out of the country.

He further questioned the authenticity of the claims of the NNPC on the quantities of petroleum products supplied and consumed by Nigerians on daily basis, wondering why the NNPC would allow the lifting of 98 million litres of petrol per day when it knew the actual consumption is only 60 million litres per day.

He also decried the country’s current subsidy regime which is projected to gulp over N6 trillion in 2023, describing it as a fraud.

“The issue is not about the smuggling of petroleum. I have always argued this with NNPC. If we are consuming 60m litres of petrol per day by their own computations, why in the world do you allow the lifting of petroleum of 98 million litres per day? Why, if you know this is our consumption, why do you allow that lifting? That is one. That computation to me is not anything to be believed because scientifically, you cannot tell me that I filled my tank today and tomorrow, I will still fill my tank with the same quantity of fuel.

“And if I’m running a petrol station, for instance, today, if I go to Minna Depot and lift a truck and I’m taking it to Kaduna; if reach Kaduna in the evening and offload that truck that evening, there’s no way I could have sold that petrol for you to have said that it has been expended.

“So, how do we get to 60 million litres every day? These are my problems. If you say you release 98 million litres and then, we use only 60 million litres; the balance will be 38 million litres. How many trucks will that 38 million litres every day be? That will be almost 500 trucks; which roads are they following, where are they carrying them to”, he asked.

He said the Customs Service has been doing well in addressing the issues of smuggling of products across the country’s land borders, adding that the major challenge has been smuggling along the waterways.

Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Sa’idu Abdullahi, while speaking at the session, said there was an urgent need to find a lasting solution to the issue of petroleum subsidy in the country.

“If there is anything that has constituted a nuisance on our resources today it is the subsidy and without mincing words, as a government, we have not done well in doing the right thing. We are talking about 6 trillion going into subsidy payments which almost don’t exist.

“You talked about 38 million litres which amount to about 500 trucks leaving this shore on a daily basis; we have investment in NIGCOMSAT, do we have captured images of these trucks leaving our shores? Society will be kind enough to us if we have been able to proffer a lasting solution to subsidy because it is not sustainable. Money that should go into social services is being spent on subsidies which end in private pockets”, he said.