Fuel smuggling booms as traders make N55 per litre — Investigations

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  • As Reps summon health minister over NHIS boss’ suspension

The smuggling of petrol across Nigerian the borders has increased as illegal traders make N55 per litre on the product.

Investigations at Idi Iroko and other border communities in Ogun State over the weekend, showed that a litre of petrol was sold at N200 at the boundary and as much as N250 per litre in Benin Republic.

This means that a greater part of Nigeria’s imported and subsidised fuel is illegally used to meet demand in other West African nations, especially Benin, Togo and Liberia.

Consequently, many people have been attracted to participate in the illegal trade in petrol and other petroleum products. Many illegal traders were seen retailing the product in bottles, which was highly patronised by motorcyclists, taxi drivers and others in the area.

A trader who preferred not to be named disclosed that the fuel comes mainly from illegal bunkering and vandalised facilities in the Niger Delta and other parts of Nigeria.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, had a few weeks ago, stated that the downstream and midstream sectors of the Nigerian petroleum industry continue to remain challenged, disclosing that the price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, was rising above the current pump price.

According to him, “the traders who bring the product from the Niger Delta, Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan and other cities have wholesalers with storage facilities in areas that pay cash or take it on credit based on agreed terms.

Mr. Joseph Attah, spokesman of the Nigeria Customs Service said in a telephone interview that the smuggling of petrol and other petroleum products should be perceived as a crime against the state.

According to him, the organisation has carried out various patrols to tackle the menace in the bordering communities. He said that the Customs can do more if members of the public, including communities are willing to provide useful information.

In the meantime, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has been scheduled to appear before the House of Representatives on July 27 over his decision to suspend the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Yusuf Usman.

Adewole had announced the suspension of Usman on July 8 over petitions alleging corrupt acts by the NHIS boss.

The suspension came just as the House Committee on Health Services was investigating alleged rot in the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme.

The petitions being investigated by the House alleged that Health Maintenance Organisations were responsible for the poor implementation of the scheme.

The House, in its reaction to the ES’ suspension on Wednesday last week, directed the minister to reinstate him immediately.

It also asked him to halt the re-accreditation of HMOs pending the outcome of the intervention by the House.

The Chairman, House Committee on Health Services, Mr. Chike Okafor, confirmed to The PUNCH on Tuesday that the minister would appear on July 27.

Responding to an electronic mail by The PUNCH, Okafor simply wrote, “Thursday next week, July 27.”

Incidentally, the House will also be proceeding on its annual recess on July 27.

One of the allegations levelled against Usman was that he procured a Sports Utility Vehicle for N58m without due process.

It was Okafor, who moved a motion on the floor of the House to draw the attention of lawmakers to the suspension of the ES.

Okafor told the session, which was presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, that it would appear that the ES was being punished for exposing corruption in the NHIS during his speech at the committee hearing.

Vanguard with additional report from Citizen