Anti-smuggling:Nigerian Navy Takes Battles To Petrol Smugglers Camps On Badagry Channel, Eleko Beach In Lagos

By Stephen Ubanna

With the support from Bashir Jamoh, OFR, led Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, the Western Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy, under the Leadership of Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, appears to have taken the battle to the Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular petrol smugglers camp along the Badagry Channel and Eleko Beach in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre.

Only  recently  Rear Admiral Mustapha Hassan, Commander Joint Operation AWATSE/  Flag Officer,  Commanding  Western Naval  Command  of the Nigerian Navy,  revived Operation Water Guard, OWG, Patrol Team,   had discovered two   punctured points  on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, now baptised Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPC,   with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, by the National Assembly and signed into Law by former President  Muhammadu Buhari, pipeline used for siphoning  illicit petrol, to Benin Republic by the oil thieves.

 NNS BEECROFT, under the Command of Commodore Olumide Oguntuga in Collaboration with Operation AWATSE, were said to have discovered the   punctured points on the NNPCL pipeline along the Badagry Channel, acting on information gathered on from the maritime domain awareness facility,’’ the Falcon Eye Alignment’’.

Many believe that the he Customs Western Command and other Customs Interventionist Units like Seme Command ,  and Federal Oerations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos, room to the Western Naval Command revived OPWG, to take over the responsibility of pursuing the petrol smugglers to the hideout along the Badagry Channel that they have alerted Mele Kolo Kyari, Group Managing Director, GMD, of NPCL, about the pipeline damage.

Navy Discovers Punctured NPCL pipeline along Badagry Channel

In spite of the poor state of the nation’s refineries which had put the NPCL, GMD, in a tight corner over the last two years because of the   over $592 billion, 4.8 million Euro and 3.4 million pound sterling that had been spent on the repairs of the 450,000b/d, refinery and petrochemical plants across the country and the repeated promises of one the PortHarcourt and Warri refineries going to start production by December, 2023, but no sign yet,  Kyari, was said to have  moved into action   

Acting on information from the Western Naval Command Authorities may have informed why the NPCL, has started the repairs of the Badagry punctured pipeline points immediately to stop the petrol thieves from continuing their nefarious activities.

NPCL,plugs punctured Oil pipeline along Badagry channel

The Nigerian Navy Western  Naval Command OWG, patrol  team  was said to have also intercepted  several jerrycans of petrol of 25 litres   and drums of Automotive Gas Oil, popular, diesel,   at the popular Eloko beach , Lekki, and  in the vicinity of Liverpool, Apapa, Lagos respectively.

The saying that everyday is for the thief and one day is for the owner of the house speaks volume.  The Beninois oil thieves and their Nigerian Collaborators over the years have been siphoning Nigerian imported petrol through the punctured NPCL pipelines including smuggling thousands of filled jerrycans of petrol of 25 litres each  through the Tongeji border island between Nigeria and Benin     Republic  into the  Beninois gasoline market .  

Informed sources told The Value News that the smuggled petrol are usually stored in private warehouses in the border Communities. The OWG, discovery of petro depots in houses, schools and recreation centres in Iyaafin and Itsalu Communities within the Badagry Inland area adjoining Nigeria- Benin Republic clearly shows that the oil thieves could use any facility to open a petrol depot I Benin Republic because of the lucrative nature of the business.

Podji smuggled petrol depot warehouse in Benin Republic, burst into flames Killing people

 The fire incident at a private depot at the southern Benin Republic town of Seme Podji where cars, motorbikes and trycle taxis came to stock up fuel, killing more than 30 people including babies may have sent a signal to the people that the business is no longer worth it.  

An eyewitness account said the intensity of the flame was so severe that private fire fighters could not approach it, while waiting for the state fire fighters from Cotonou, the country’s capital city to come with their firefighting equipment to quench the raging flame.

A resident of Seme-Karke, a joint  border Community between Nigeria and Benin Republic, who spoke to The  Online- Magazine condition of anonymity disclosed that the bursting into  flames of the  Seme-Podji  petrol  depot , described as one of the biggest  depots in the French- speaking country was a big blow  to the petrol  black  market by the informal sellers who had continuously  benefited   from  long-standing  subsidy  meant to keep  petrol prices  significantly low in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa.

 Althogh, the Buhari’s Administration had subsidised petrol importation into the country for the eight years in office, Kyari, the GMD, NPCL, had revealed that the petrol subsidy   payment hinders the company from funding its core businesses, noting that the Federal government still owed N2.8 trillion   from the subsidy regime that had been abandoned by the Tinubu’s Administration. He had confirmed that the Beninois petrol smugglers were had benefited immensely from the subsidy regime to the disadvantage of Nigerians.

 Indeed, the decision by the Tinubu’s government to remove the petrol subsidy may have encouraged the Beninois petrol thieves to intensify efforts to ensure that there is always fuel in the Beninois gasoline market to sell. The renewed fight against the petrol smugglers, both on land and sea by the Nigerian Navy  has shown ‘’the deep economic dependence   of  Benin Republic’’ on Nigeria.

The  blockage of the Tongeji Island by the Western Naval Command OWG, to  forestall the activities  of the Benin petrol thieves who are messing up the  Nigerian economy, may have further encouraged the Naval Patrol team  OWG,  to checkmate smugglers of other Contraband products into the Nigerian market.

On Friday, November 24, 2023, Rear Admiral Hassan’s men were said to have intercepted 127 bags of Cannabis Sativa, popular, Indian Hemp, allegedly produced in the Economic Community of Wes African states , ECOWAS, of Ghana , Cote Ivoire along the Badagry Channel and  Eleko beach, in Lagos. The Western Naval Command seizure of 127 bags of narcotic put at about N254 million  by Valuation experts  including pumping machine used in siphoning petrol from the puncture NPCL Pipeline at the Badagry axis, jerrycans of petrol  and drums of Automotive  Gas oil, popular, diesel  by OWG, in its operations , according to Rear Admiral Hassan , FOC, Western Naval Command  .bear eloquent testimony’’ to the dedication of the Nigerian Navy  under the Leadership of Vice Admiral  Ogalla in tackling drug trafficking  and protection of the nation’s resources’’.

Compt. Bomodi: Area Controller, Seme Command

  This is where Comptrollers Oduadu Salefu, Western Marine Command, Timi Bomodi, of Seme Command and Kehinde Husain Ejibunu, Acting Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos, may have to sit up.

The trio may have to convince the Customs Comptroller General that they have all that it takes to checkmate the petrol smugglers by Leveraging on technology to deal with them .  Acting Compt. Ahmadu Shuaibu, Area Controller Ogun I, who was said to have  leveraged on technology over the last one month to deal with the petrol and other Contraband smugglers in his area of jurisdiction appears to have made a headway in dealing with the economic saboteurs.

The smugglers who smiles to the Creeks to evacuate the smuggled Contraband to an agree location with their sponsors are always very surprised to find the warehouse where the smuggled items are kept to have been broken and the items evacuated to a Customs warehouse without any exchange of bullet.

This may have sent a message to smugglers that the incidents of April and May, 2023, would no longer repeat itself in the area, meaning that it is no longer business as usual.

It is not surprising why Rear Admiral Hassan of the Western Naval Command revived OWG, patrol team, have not found  it necessary  to patrol the Creeks in Ogun state because all the petrol smugglers operating in the former President Olusegun Obaanjo home state have relocated to Badagry water channel, and Eleko Beech, Lekki, to carry out their nefarious activities.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *