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Fuel subsidy: Senate urges Customs, NSA to lift ban on fuel supply to border communities

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The Senate has directed the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, (NCS), and the National Security Adviser, (NSA), to lift the restriction order placed on the supply of petroleum products to border communities.

It argued that fuel subsidy removal by the federal government has substantially put paid to the smuggling of the products and therefore should be allowed to circulate freely without restrictions.

The Red Chamber urged the Offices of the Comptroller General and NSA to intensify preventive and enforcement measures to combat smuggling of all kinds in the country.

The resolutions followed the consideration of a motion to that effect by Senator Solomon Adeola (APC Ogun West) on Tuesday at the plenary.

Senator Adeola, while leading the debate on the motion, informed his colleagues that the federal government had on November 6, 2019, through the Comptroller General of Customs directed that “no petroleum products are permitted to be discharged in any filling station within a radius of 20 kilometres to the border” of Nigeria.

He noted that the directive was to checkmate the smuggling of Nigerian petroleum products, mostly premium motor spirit, PMS, to the neighbouring countries where there was a thriving market for petrol because of subsidy that was still on the product until May 29, 2023, when President Bola Tinubu announced its removal in his inaugural speech.

“This policy had brought untold hardship and major losses to businesses of the residents and indigenes of the affected border communities, which later made the Nigerian Customs relax the policy slightly by giving license to two or three petrol stations in each of the local government areas that border these neighbouring countries.

“But that remedy was just a drop of water in an ocean scarcity of petrol considering the mass population of the people affected in these border towns and communities,” he stressed.

The lawmaker said the suspension order has affected the people living in border communities across Yewaland in Ogun State, particularly in Idiroko axis where he disclosed only five licensed independent petroleum marketers are allowed to dispense the commodity to over 500,000 residents with over 150 dispersed towns and villages.

Senator Adeola argued that “since there is no more subsidy on petroleum products as proclaimed by the President, there is no justification for the restriction order because the price of petrol across the international border has also gone up in line with the new price regime across Nigeria.”

All the senators who contributed to the motion lamented the “untold hardships” being faced by the people living in border communities over restrictions on fuel as well as fertilizer, especially in the Northern part of the country.

The Senate, in its further resolution, mandated its Committees on Customs and Excise, and National Security and Intelligence, when constituted, to ensure compliance and report back in four weeks for further legislative action.

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