Border corruption: Security agents, smugglers worsen subsidy crisis, flout Buhari’s order

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Facts have emerged about how security agents and border communities aid smuggling of petroleum products, thus worsening the fuel subsidy crisis in the country.

Our correspondents, who visited border communities in Ogun, Adamawa, Katsina, Sokoto, Borno, Taraba and Kwara states, observed how security agents turned a blind eye to petroleum products smugglers after receiving bribes from them.

Recall that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had in a memo issued through the Nigeria Customs Service on November 6, 2019, ordered that petroleum products should not be supplied to petrol stations within 20-km of borders as part of efforts to check the smuggling of the products.

But the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, on Wednesday last week partly attributed the rise in Nigeria’s daily consumption of petrol to 102 million litres in  May to smuggling.

On Monday, The PUNCH reported that petrol landing cost increased to N232, while subsidy on the product rose to N5.58bn.

In Katsina State, The PUNCH learnt that smuggling of petrol was a lucrative business in border communities.

Although petrol sells for between N163  and N 165 per litre in the state,  smugglers, who buy the product in Nigeria, sell thrice that price in the Niger Republic.

The state shares borders with the  Niger Republic at  Magamar-Jibia and Kongolam.

But it was gathered that there were more than 1,000 illegal routes that were used by petrol smugglers.

A commercial driver, who plies the Katsina-Jibia route, revealed that fuel smugglers were both Nigeriens and Nigerians.

Fuel smugglers  move freely on Katsina-Jibia highway after bribing security agents – Driver

Another commercial driver stated, “The security agents on the  Katsina-Jibia highway cannot claim not to know the smugglers. Once the  security agents are given money depending on the quantity of the smuggled fuel and the bargaining power of the driver , the smugglers move freely along the highway until they get near Jibia where they make a detour  to  illegal routes instead of passing through the official border at Magamar-Jibia.”

Blame security agents, we have 30 checkpoints along Katsina-Jibia road – Community leader

A community leader in Jibia, Mallam Gide Dahiru, in an interview with The PUNCH, said security operatives should be blamed for fuel smuggling.

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