Paschal Emeka, Abuja, 8th JULY 2022|12:59PM
The House of Representatives’ Ad-Hoc Committee on the Volume of Fuel Consumed Daily in Nigeria has directed the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to provide details of the Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) seized and auctioned by the agency.
The Comptroller-General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.) who appeared before the committee, explained that the Service needs a court order to auction other petroleum products except petrol.
Ali, who was represented by the Deputy Comptroller General (Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection), Etim Edorhe, disclosed this when reacting to questions bordering on imported petroleum products being smuggled to the neighboring countries.
He said: “So, Customs is not folding its hands, we are doing our work. The borders are there, we have the joint border patrol in place. Yes, we are daily intercepting these items as they attempt to move out, some of them in tankers, some of them in drums, then in jerry cans.
“Some of these smugglers have this ingenuity of having petroleum products in polymer bags that you would not know. But daily, we seize them. We are always ahead of whatever method they adopt.
“I just told you, I took record of what happened in 2021, which I am going to give to you. In 2021, a total of 2,278,297 litres and with a duty paid value to the tune of N501,514,178,692.50 was intercepted.
He maintained that the seized petroleum products do not require a court injunction before being auctioned.
“When you intercept inflammable products, you don’t keep them because of the possibility of fire around the premises. So, such items are auctioned and the money paid into the Federation Account.”
A member of the committee, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, said the lawmakers should probe into the seizures and auctions, “so, we can satisfy the public that these things were properly managed.”
The Chairman of the Committee, Abdulkadir Abdullahi, in his ruling, said: “The products seized, the auctions, the payments and the auctioneers and those who bought (the auctioned petroleum products) should be made available to us.
“We don’t want to leave any stone unturned so that we can look at these things critically and positively. He came with the list of the seized products but he didn’t give us an order. So, I ask that he gives it to us so we can also cross-check. He may wish to tender that.”
Responding, the Customs boss said: “I am going to give you that; I will get back with the figure from 2015 to 2021.”
The chairman of the Committee, who gave Customs seven days to provide the details, directed the Clerk to write the Comptroller-General of the NCS to “give us the full details of the products seized, auctioned, the auctioneers, the volume, the value and any other related matter to this application.”