Reps: DPR gets 16-hour ultimatum to unveil owners of 400 illegal filling stations

• Decry sale of PMS at N600 per liter at border towns

The House of Representatives on Thursday issued 16 hours ultimatum to Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to provide the identities of owners of over 400 illegal stations operating at the border towns to Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for prosecution and necessary security actions.

Chairman, House Committee on Customs and Excise, Hon. Yuguda Kila issued the directive during an investigation public hearing into the suspension of the provision of petroleum products to filling stations operating 20 kilometres from the borders.

The lawmakers also frowned at the situation where some Customs officers aid and abet smugglers to siphon petroleum products sold at N145 per litre across the border and resell at N600 per litre.

While querying the timeliness of the border closure policy, the lawmakers argued the smuggled foreign rice which was allegedly banned, came into the country at night are currently available en-mass at major markets in Kano, Lagos and other states.

During his presentation, NCS Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ali who admitted that the policy has inflicted undue hardship on some citizens however noted that the decision has helped in compelling authorities of neighbouring countries to come to round table meeting with Nigeria on the need to address various security and other socio-economic concerns raised over the years.

According to him, the policy has led to a reduction in the national consumption of PMS from 30 to 40%, adding that policy is not a permanent one.

He assured that necessary actions are being taken to ensure revocation of licences of illegal filling stations or initiate relocation from the border towns, just as he noted that the activities of those illegal filling stations are in contravention of the extant law which prohibits the establishment of filling station at 10km to the border.

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Col. Ali explained that government of Benin Republic and Niger Republic have over the years sent junior officers to various meetings, and at the end of the day informed them that they will report the progress about the meetings to their superiors.

As a palliative measure, Col. Ali disclosed that 3 filling stations at the border corridors have been selected to collect and supply petroleum products in the interim in order to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians.

He alleged that most of the people involved in the smuggling activities are youths, adding that there is a need for synergy between all the regulatory agencies and National Assembly to embark on an attitudinal change of Nigerians.

He added that the shutdown of the border has impacted positively on local rice production and poultry business while admitting that the freight forwarders have lost heir job in the process.

The Customs boss, who called for a thorough overview of the benefits of the policy to the country, maintained that the security situation has improved as well as revenue generation during the period under review.

On his part, Chief Operating Officer for Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engr. Yemi Adetunji urged the Committee to demand the release of names, phone number and address of all the owners of the illegal filling stations.

He also pledged the Corporation’s readiness to liaise with all major marketers to stop the supply of petroleum products to the illegal filling stations.

In his submission, DPR’s Assistant Director of Operations, Engr. Idris Mohammed who observed that NNPC is responsible for the supply of petroleum products to oil marketers affirmed that most of the products approved were being smuggled out of the country.

While admitting that the agency has not released the list of all the identified illegal filling stations to Customs, he argued that the agency has conducted a census of the affected filling stations.

While noting that DPR has the statutory power to demolish the illegal filling stations operating at the borders but can only hand them over to Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for prosecution, Engr. Mohammed failed to answer questions on why the agency has not handed over the illegal filling stations to NSCDC for prosecution.

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