Spread the love


Comptroller General of the Customs, Wale Adeniyi, MFR

A combined total of 280,135 liters of fuel worth more than N196.5 million which would have been smuggled out of the country has been intercepted by the Operation Whirlwind of the Nigeria Customs  Service with other commands nationwide in the last two weeks.The Task Force was established to nip in the bud the unwholesome illegal exportation of petroleum products.

Comptroller General of the Customs, Wale Adeniyi, MFR disclosed in Yola few hours ago while on a working visit there. He said this nefarious act raises serious economic concerns with broader implications on national security.

According to him, the quantum of this diversion is equivalent to the more that 84% of the daily evacuation of PMS to states like Ekiti and Jigawa. It also represents around 32.57% of the daily evacuation to the border states of Borno and Katsina according to the data on average daily evacuation obtained from NMDPRA.

He noted that these activities, if left unchecked, could further deteriorate the country’s economic situation and exacerbate current foreign exchange challenges. The influx of unaccounted foreign currency could be channelled into funding illegitimate activities, including the support of non-state actors engaged in criminal activities against the Nigerian state. These issues have serious implications for national security, making it imperative to check, curtail, and dismantle these illicit operations. Achieving this requires the cooperation and collaboration of patriotic government agencies, exemplified by the ongoing Operation Whirlwind.

In response to the alarming increase in fuel smuggling, the NCS in close collaboration with the NSA initiated Operation Whirlwind. This nationwide operation aims to:

a. Ensure that Nigerians enjoy the full benefits of fuel price deregulation in line with the vision of President Bola Ahmed

b. Defend the National currency and reduce pressures that may be attributed to the activities of smugglers.

c. identify, dismantle and disrupt cartels of smugglers operating within the ecosystem.

d. Raise awareness of the local communities and solicit their support to achieve these objectives.

Guided by credible intelligence and empowered by the new Customs Act 2023, the operation targets illegal exportation,
particularly of petroleum products, ensuring their availability within the country and conserving government resources. Coordinated by a Comptroller of Customs, the operation covers all NCS Zones (A-D),
involving selected officers trained and equipped to handle the task with strict adherence to professionalism. Collaboration with the ONSA and the NMDPRA supports the operation, utilizing internal and external sources. This operation was launched approximately two weeks ago.

The NCS is pleased to announce the significant strides made in the ongoing Operation Whirlwind, aimed at curbing the smuggling of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) out of the country. In the past 2 weeks
we have receivedcredible intelligence on the relative stability of the price of PMS around border states, this is easily attributed to disruptions in the operations of smugglers. Within 7 days of intensive
operations, a total of 150,950 litres of PMS, valued at N105,965,391, have been intercepted at various locations nationwide. The seizures include:

a. On Friday 31 May 2024. A total of 45,000 litres of PMS in a tanker was seized at Mova, Adamawa.

b. On Saturday 1 June 2024. A total of 45,000 litres of PMS in a tanker was seized at Mubi, Adamawa.

c. On Monday 3 June 2024. A total of 2,375 litres of PMS in 95 25-liter jerrycans were seized at Mubi, Adamawa State.

d. On Wednesday 5 June 2024. A total of 4,450 litres of PMS in 178 25-liter jerrycans were seized in 3 different locations,
including Song-Wuroboki, Mubi-Sahuda road and Gidan Madara Sahuda road all in Adamawa state

e. On Thursday 6 June 2024. A total of 20,030 litres of PMS in 25 and 30 litre Jerrycans were sized in various locations across the country including Maiha, Adamawa State, Illela, Sokoto and
Agbaragba creek in Mfum border of Cross River State.

f. On Friday 7 June 2024. A total of 32,900 litres of PMS were seized at border locations in the North-east and South-west
axis of the country. A total of 17,500 litres was recoded in Mubi Adamawa state, while 15,400 litres was recorded around Imeko
Obada Road in 616 25 Jerrycans.

g. On Saturday 8 June 2024. A total of 8,525 litres of PMS were also seized in 2 separate locations in Owode (Owode-Ilaro
road and Owode-Atan road) in Ogun state.

He stated that in addition to the ongoing operations under Operation Whirlwind, Customs Area Commands remain vigilant against the illicit activities of smugglers targeting petroleum motor spirit (PMS). The Service has recorded significant seizures of PMS from unpatriotic individuals attempting to deprive Nigerians of access to fuel and cause unnecessary hardship.

While the operation continues, our Federal Operating Units and Marine Commands have intercepted a total of 129,185 litres of fuel valued at N90,558,685. Notably, 54.48% of these seizures occurred in the North-West region, including states such as Katsina, Kebbi, and Sokoto, while 23.87% of the seizures were recorded in the North Eastern part of the country, particularly in states like Taraba and Adamawa. It is worth noting that these states have also seen a significant increase in fuel evacuation as reported by the NMDPRA.

He said, under this collaboration, efforts are being made to resolve existing gaps in the following areas:

a.Sharing of Critical Data Among Agencies. Ongoing engagement with the NMDPRA and the ONSA focuses on sharing daily data on PMS loading. This will enable the NCS to track the movement and delivery of these products to their intended locations.

b.Monitoring Movement of PMS Lifting. The NCS will enforce strict monitoring of tanker movements, ensuring that PMS products lifted from NMDPRA facilities are delivered to approved locations.

c.Use of Manual Systems by Independent Marketers. Independent marketers are advised to automate their existing fleet management systems to enable tracking and geo-fencing capabilities.

d.Proliferation of Fuel Stations at Border Areas. The NCS will collaborate with relevant licensing agencies to manage the proliferation of petrol stations around border areas.

According to him, these measures are essential and will be rigorously implemented to ensure strict adherence to government expectations. However, in enforcing these measures, we are mindful of the potential challenges they may pose to border communities. Our operations will not obstruct or interfere with the legitimate activities of patriotic citizens in these areas.

He stated, about a year ago, the Federal Government made the bold strategic decision to remove the fuel subsidy. This crucial step was aimed at freeing up substantial funds that could be redirected to other productive sectors of the economy, reducing pressure on our foreign
exchange reserves, and diversifying economic growth.

The immediate impact was an upward adjustment in fuel prices to reflect current realities. Despite the inflationary pressures and financial strain on households, particularly those with lower incomes, comparative studies still show that fuel prices in Nigeria remain the cheapest compared to other countries in the West and Central African region.

While Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) is sold at an average of N701.99 in Nigeria, it is sold at an average of N1,672.05 in the Republic of Benin and N2,061.55 in Cameroon. In other countries around the region, the price of PMS ranges from N1,427.68 in Liberia to N2,128.20 in Mali, averaging N1,787.57, according to the fuel price data obtained from open source.

He noted that this comparative price advantage, while beneficial to our citizens, unfortunately creates a lucrative incentive for smuggling PMS out of Nigeria, where prices are two to three times higher. This claim is substantiated by the report on the average daily evacuation of PMS to various states in Nigeria, obtained from the Nigeria National Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

According to him, the report shows significant changes in evacuation patterns that are not justified by corresponding economic and demographic changes, particularly in border statesthat share contiguous borders with our neighbours. Between April and May 2024, Borno and Kebbi States recorded 76% and 59% increases in evacuations, ranking among the top three states. On a year-on-year basis (May 2023 and May 2024), Sokoto and Taraba States recorded the most substantial increases in evacuations, with 247% and 234% increases, respectively. Border states like Katsina and Kebbi also recorded more than 50% increases in evacuation.

He stressed that these discrepancies, along with the price disparity between domestic PMS (N701.99) and neighbouring countries (N1,787.57), raise concerns about the actual delivery of PMS and the potential for smuggling. Moreover, credible intelligence on activities around border areas corroborates these suspicions.

He concluded with a stern warning to the perpetrators of these illicit acts: Desist immediately or face the full wrath of the law.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *