Operation Whirlwind Hits Hard on PMS Smugglers, As Operative Makes Significant Seizures

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Barely two weeks after Nigeria Customs Service launched “Operation Whirlwind” – a decisive onslaught against illegal trade of petroleum products across Nigeria’s borders, the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) Adewale Adeniyi, says the Service has started recording massive turnout in curtailing the menace of PMS smuggling across the federation.

Addressing newsmen on Monday, 10 June 2024, in Yola, the Adamawa state capital, the CGC re-emphasised strategic efforts to address the critical issue of fuel smuggling. Stating that the exercise aimed at curtailing economic saboteurs has the solid support of the Office of the National Security Adviser.

He said the Service had, in response to the alarming increase in fuel smuggling, launched the initiative to defend the National currency, reduce pressures that may be attributed to the activities of smugglers and dismantle their cartels within the ecosystem, adding, “In the past 2 weeks we have received credible intelligence on the relative stability of the price of PMS around the Border States, this is easily attributed to disruptions in the operations of smugglers.”

According to him, the operatives attached to the initiative had, within 7 days of non-stop task, intercepted a total of 150,950 litres of PMS, valued at N105,965,391, at various locations nationwide, highlighting, “On Friday 31 May 2024. A total of 45,000 litres of PMS in a tanker was seized at Mubi, Adamawa State.”

He stated that “On Saturday, 1 June 2024, a total of 45,000 litres of PMS in a tanker was also seized at Mubi, Adamawa, while between Monday, 3 June 2024, and Friday, 7 June 2024, a total of 92,928 litres of PMS in 25 litres of different sizes of jerry cans at Mubi, Song-Wuroboki, Mubi-Sahuda road and Gidan Madara – Sahuda road, in Adamawa state and others in Illela, Sokoto and Agbaragba creek in Mfum border of Cross River State.

The CGC further stated that the Service has also recorded significant seizures of 129,185 litres of PMS from unpatriotic individuals attempting to deprive Nigerians of access to fuel and cause unnecessary hardship valued at N90,558,685, adding “A combined diversion of 280,135 litres of PMS of N196,524,075.50 raises serious economic concerns with broader implications on National Security.”

The CG lamented the unfortunate increase in smuggling of PMS across Borno, Kebbi, Sokoto, Taraba, and Katsina states borders between April and May 2024, and the Service deemed it necessary to collaborate with the NSA to come up with a lasting solution to ensure that Nigerians enjoy the full benefits of fuel price deregulation in line with the vision of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

He said, “Between April and May 2024, Borno and Kebbi States recorded 76% and 59% increases in evacuations, ranking among the top three states. On a year-on-year basis (May 2023 and May 2024), Sokoto and Taraba States recorded the most substantial increases in evacuations, with 247% and 234% increases, respectively.”

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