Falana: Petrol smuggling has official backing — NNPC must build filling stations in neighbouring countries

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Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says the smuggling of petrol to neighbouring countries is “officially carried out”.

On Monday, Hameed Ali, the comptroller-general of customs, had asked the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to set up filling stations in neighbouring countries to curb smuggling. Falana said he had suggested the same idea to the NNPC years ago, but after accepting it, the plan was abandoned “due to pressure from the powerful smugglers”. “Sometimes these smugglers are accompanied by criminally minded security people. And now to stop this nefarious crime, I have pleaded with the government; let NNPC build mega stations in the neighbouring countries, Cameroon, Togo, Benin up to Ghana,” he said.

“Once you do that, Nigeria will supply directly. I mean, if I take off in Lagos here going to Cotonou and you’re going to Ibadan, I’ll get to Cotonou before you. What is the problem? But because the business of smuggling is officially carried out.“Last year, DPR said that our consumption rate is 38.2 million litres per day. A few months later, NNPC claimed that the figure had jumped to 102 million litres. “The entire fuel consumed in the entire West African region is not up to that figure, it’s not up to 100 million litres. That is, from Dakar, Senegal to Nigeria.”

The senior lawyer added that the customs comptroller-general “has been on the neck of the NNPC” about the smuggling of petrol, “so he spoke out two days ago out of frustration”.Falana said the NNPC, using the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) building-up model, could set up mega stations in neighbouring countries. He said the customs boss had to go to the national assembly to seek help because the NNPC was not willing to act on the suggestion.

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