Some petrol smugglers, in the early hours of Thursday, September 22, 2022, engaged men of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), in a serious shootout.
In a statement addressed to members of the public, the acting Customs Area Controller in charge of the unit, Deputy Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu said in spite of the shooting by the smugglers, the Customs officers made a seizure of 81,425 litres of petrol.
While noting that the petrol was stored in jerry cans and sacks, Ejibunu said the officers were attacked by the smugglers using dane guns.
He added that the seizures were the results of painstaking intelligence and perseverance on the part of officers of the unit who were committed to protecting the national economy.
“When my men got there at exactly 13.30hrs, we were shot at with dane guns. And you know that there is a difference between dane guns, pump action guns and assault rifles like AK47.
“They fired their dane guns a few times and ran away, and since it was their terrain, they knew all the nooks and crannies to use 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.
“The seizure is a result of serious intelligence. We have been monitoring them since last week, and the information came to me that some people are using sacks to smuggle petroleum products out of Nigeria.
“We put a tab on them and their cup became full. What baffled me is the manner of loading, which I consider highly ingenious.
“The only difference in this new one is that they used sacks to conceal the product and put them close to a creek, from where they will be ferried out,” the Customs chief said as he decried a situation where the Federal Government spent a huge amount of money to subsidise fuel for the benefit of Nigerians only for a few persons to be smuggling the subsidised commodity out of Nigeria for selfish gains.
How much oil is stolen in Nigeria?
In 2022 Q1, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) released data that showed that Nigeria was losing about 250, 000 barrels per day of crude oil to theft. This did not only bring the total loss to about $1.5 billion daily but has consequently become the possible biggest threat to national development and the environment.
Just as economic woes are exacerbating Nigeria, oil theft by criminal networks and corrupt public office holders in the country is ravaging the economy.
Essentially, with how oil theft is gaining momentum in present times, the 11th largest oil-producing country in the world, cannot meet the quota assigned to it by Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).