By Anthony Nwachukwu
Less than a one week after a similar seizure, operatives of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have intercepted another 81,425 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, in the Badagry area of Lagos.
Ag. Compt. Hussein Ejibunu of the FOU ‘A’ said the highly inflammable products were loaded in jerrycans and sacks, and at the verge of being smuggled into neighbouring Benin Republic when they were intercepted, according to a statement from the Public Relations Officer, Theophilus Duniya.
He disclosed that the smugglers, using dane guns, severally shot at the customs operatives during the all-night operation, describing trans-border fuel smugglers as saboteurs who “must be stopped, as they don’t mean well for the country.”
Ejibunu further decried the diversion of the petroleum product to other climes for selfish gains after being highly subsidised by the Federal Government for citizens’ benefit. According to him, “the seizure was a result of serious intelligence.
“We have been monitoring them since last week, and information came to me that some people were using sacks to smuggle petroleum products out of Nigeria. We put a tab on them and their cup became full yesterday.
“What baffles me is the manner of loading, which I consider highly ingenious, instead of carrying drums like the ones we intercepted a few days ago at Ayegun border, where they brought in about 60 drums of PMS about to be moved from Nigeria and hid them in a bush. It was when they went to secure trucks that we swooped on them.
“The difference in this new one is that they used sacks to conceal the product and put them close to a creek, from where they would be ferried out. The implications for the economy are multifaceted.
“First, our country subsidised petroleum products for our use, yet some recalcitrant people believe that the way they can always survive is to short-change the nation. It is criminal because it is our collective patrimony, yet some people now believe that they can smuggle it to make gains.
“When my men got there at exactly 1330hrs, they were shot at with dane guns a few times and ran away, and since it was their terrain, they knew all the nooks and crannies for escape.
“We took possession because I moved in with 18 Hilux vehicles loaded with officers who were armed to the teeth, because I was ready and knew what could come up. We have not slept, we went there this (Saturday) morning to see what we apprehended, and it was massive.”