Nigeria lost a whopping N1.3trillion to smugglers of petroleum products during the 16 -month closure of its land borders over alleged security breaches and abuse of international trade facilitation procedures.
The border closure, which crippled economic activities around the land borders across the nation also forced many young and aged men and women to resort to illegal businesses include smuggling of rice, chicken, Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly known as petroleum among other products.
Throughout the border closure, smuggling of fuel especially at the Seme border and North Central region was the order of the day, as millions of jerricans of fuel in various size were seized and auctioned around those borders communities.
For instance, in its 2020 official statement, Seme Customs Command said it intercepted 1,080,875 litres of PMS, with the Joint Border Patrol Team Sector 3 (JBPT) of the North Central region seizing 242 jerricans of PMS and nine drums of Automotive Gas Oil.
Investigations revealed that Nigerian petroleum products were also smuggled to as far as Sudan and sold at higher price.
However, Nigerian businessmen who ply their trade between Lagos and some West Africa states like Togo, Benin Republic, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroun told Daily Sun, that smuggling of fuel was the major business for economic saboteurs during the border closure.
They said smugglers used both bush paths, creeks and waterways to carry out their practice while some bribed security agents along the border corridors to move the fuel to the neigbouring countries. They alleged that despite the Federal Government’s decision to reopen the borders, smugglers were still moving white products and other goods across the borders
Mr. Kingston Abel, who operates across the land border corridors over the past 16 years, said petroleum products smuggled out of the country during the period of border closure could be valued at over N1.3 trillion, noting that 80 per cent of petroleum products consumed in West Africa are smuggled from Nigeria.
He argued that countries like Benin Republic, Cameroun, and Togo do not subsidise their fuels, making petroleum productsin such countries very expensive hence their increasing reliance on smuggled products from Nigeria which they now retail at higher prices.
While in Nigeria, petrol is currently being sold for between N160 and N165 per litre, the disparity between prices in Nigeria and Niger Republic could be as high as N350 per litre and above. A litre of petrol is sold for N295.60 in Togo, N435.30 in Cameroun, N320.60 in Ghana, it goes for N359.35 while in Chad its N350.30 in Benin Republic, N470.60 in Mali and among others. They are some West African countries that sell above N500 per litre.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has decried the N16 billion annual losses on container deposits by importers in the country over failure to return empty containers within the time specified by shipping lines. Daily Sun learnt that shippers pay container deposits of N300,000 for a 40 feet container and N150,000 for a 20 feet container to shipping lines. However, the shipper forfeits the deposit if the container is not returned to the shipping line within the grace period.
Source: The Sun