Border communities kick as Customs suspend fuel supply to areas (See Circular)
Tiamiyu Saheed Oluwatosin
Residents of communities within Idiroko border axis in Ogun State have lamented the directive from the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hamed Ali, announcing the suspension of petrol and diesel supply to filling stations within 20 kilometres radius to all Nigerian borders.
The directive was contained in a circular from the office of Ali, a copy of which was made available to Press.
The circular has been confirmed by Customs spokesman, Joseph Attah, who said the directive has been given to all NCS Commands through Chidi A, the Deputy Comptroller-General Enforcement, Inspection, and Investigation, on Wednesday in Abuja.
The circular, dated November 6, 2019, titled ‘EII/2019/Circular No. 027 Suspension of Petroleum Products Supply To Filling Stations Within 20 Kilometers To All Borders’, was addressed to “all zonal coordinators, operation swift response, sector coordinator 1, 2, 3 & 4, customs area controllers, coordinators CGC strike force teams, coordinator, headquarters strike force teams and all marine commands.
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It reads, “The comptroller general of Customs has directed that henceforth no petroleum products no matter the tank size is permitted to be discharged in any filling station within 20 kilometres to the border.
“Consequently, you are to ensure strict and immediate compliance please.”
But residents of border communities in Ipokia Local Government said the move was an attempt to shut them out of Nigeria by denying them access to fuel.
They berated Ali for allegedly being insensitive to the fact that his decision would bring about fuel scarcity, which they said would be inimical to economic activities in the area.
Press learnt that with the 20 kilometres directive, residents Ipokia Local Government will now spend about N1,500 to travel to Owode to get one litre of fuel.
“How much do I make daily that I will now travel to Owode or Oke-Odan to buy two litres of petrol. It’s like this government want to punish us in this part of Nigeria,” An Okada rider, James Ajibogun told our correspondent in Yoruba.
The Chairman, Ipokia Youth Development Council, Comrade Rasheed Idris, while speaking with our correspondent on the matter said youths of Ipokia condemned the new policy, describing it as one that would make life difficult for residents of border areas.
Likewise, a community leader, while expressing dissatisfaction with the suspension of fuel supply in border areas, said, “it is a crime to live in a border community? Is it our fault that we are at the frontier of the nation?
The community leader, who pleaded anonymity, called on representatives of border communities at the state and National Assembly to take up the issue and save their constituents from untoward hardship.
Press reports that community leaders, youths, owners of petrol stations and others in the area have become restless with the suspension of petrol supply to their communities, as they said it would paralyse commercial activities and hike the cost of transportation.
Our correspondent gathered that it was the same scenario in Imeko, Ilara, Oja Odan, Ijofin, Madoga and other border communities in the Ogun West senatorial district of Ogun State.
Press recently reportedindigenes of Imeko Afon Local Government Area of Ogun State as accusing security agents of aiding illegal export of petroleum products from Nigeria to Benin Republic.
The indigenes, who released a secret video to Press, alleged that ‘powerful’ individuals from their area were involved in the illegal business by bribing security agents who were involved in the ongoing border closure exercise.
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