The Senate on Wednesday directed its Committee on Customs to summon the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) to work out a viable economic framework/policy that can mitigate the sufferings of the people, and communities across the border areas.
The Red Chamber also urged Ali to urgently explore the use of modern technological devices in the “tracking, management, and scheduling of petroleum trucks that undertake business along the border towns.”
It further called on the Customs to initiate a comprehensive audit of all petroleum stations and suppliers across the border communities, in a bid to closely monitor their movement by mandating each moving truck to have a tracking device that is monitored by the Nigeria Customs Service in a wholesome manner.
Besides, it mandated the Customs boss to ensure a “steady supply of petroleum products through the identified suppliers and registered filling stations across all the border towns and communities as a temporary palliative measures; and Initiate a holistic policy approach, with the same vigour on the Nation’s waterways.”
These resolutions followed a motion moved by Senator Tolulope Akinremi Odebiyi (Ogun West), titled: “The need to revisit the suspension order placed on the supply of petroleum products to Border Towns by the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).”
Senator Odebiyi in his lead debate averred that the Senate is aware of the remarkable progress made by the Federal Government in stopping the activities of smuggling, since the closure of all land borders in the country.
He urged his colleagues to further note that while the “country has made some laudable progress in this regard, it appears there is no sustainable framework that has been put in place to ensure the proper coordination and implementation of this directive and its horrid impact on communities and residents living across the border.”
He recalled that on Thursday 7th of November 2019, Nigerians woke up to another directive from the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, that no petroleum product should be supplied to any filling station within 20 kilometres to the borders.
He noted that following a detailed investigation by a national daily, “the order has created a huge scarcity of Petroleum products in the border towns of Ogun, Lagos, Adamawa, Katsina and Sokoto states, particularly in communities like Ilase, Megunle, ldiroko and Agosasa, among others, in Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun state.
He further noted that the directive was a knee jerk approach to a modern day problem, “as it is obsolete when compared to the array of technological solutions that can be explored to rid the country of the menace.”
He urged Senators to be worried that as a result of the order, many filling stations within 20 kilometres in Ipokia have been forcefully shut by the Federal Government’s task force on border closure, “brutalizing and illegally harassing residents in the process thereby, violating their rights to personal dignity as enshrined in Section 34(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)”
He expressed concern that as a direct impact of the order, petrol is now sold for as high as N600/per litre, “an astronomical rise from its normal price of N145.”
“Aware that there are a number of proven technological innovations that can be explored to check, manage and curtail this acts without resulting to manual blanket approaches as it is being the practice at the moment.
“Worried that if this situation is not properly addressed as soon as possible, it would further compound an already bad situation created by the prolonged border closure and thus, exerting more hardship on the people;
“Further worried that if necessary palliative measures are not put in place, the problems that will result from the ban will most certainIy affect every aspect of businesses, transactions, as health centres are already being grounded by the relative scarcity of petroleum products occasioned by this suspension”
He insisted that the negative consequences of the prolonged suspension would be borne by already suffering Nigerians.
Senators in their contributions supported the motion.