• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Senate wants FG to lift ban on petrol supply to border communities

Senate introduces bill to establish Local Government electoral commission

Senate on Tuesday directed the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the National Security Adviser (NSA) to lift the ban on the supply of petroleum products to border communities.

According to the Senate, the subsidy removal by the Federal Government has substantially put paid to the smuggling of petrol and should be allowed to circulate freely without restrictions.

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

Adeola in his lead debate on the motion informed that the Federal Government on November 6, 2019, through the Comptroller-General of Customs, directed that “no petroleum products is permitted to be discharged in any filling station within a radius of 20 kilometres to the border” of Nigeria.

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

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“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 to relax the policy slightly by giving licence 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 due to 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 really affected the people living in border communities across Yewal and in Ogun State, particularly in the Idiroko axis where he said only five licenced independent petroleum marketers are allowed to dispense the commodity to over 500,000 residents with over 150 dispersed towns and villages.

Adeola argued that “since there is no longer subsidy on our petroleum products as proclaimed by the president, there is no longer justification for the restriction order because the price of petrol across the international borders has also gone up in line with the new price regime across Nigeria” he said.

All senators who contributed to the motion lamented the “untold hardship” being faced by the people living in border communities due to the restriction on fuel and fertiliser, especially in the northern part of the country.

The Senate, in its resolution, 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 Senate 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.