Customs: Owode, Headquarters Of Abandoned Filling Stations

By Stephen Ubanna

For years, Owode, a  Headquarters  of Badagry West, Local government Area of  Lagos state, south west Nigeria, geo-political region, had remained a home of Petroleum Products dealers.  This  may have been possible as Beninese businessmen use  Nigerians as  cronies to obtain dealer’s license from the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, which are subsequently smuggled to the neighbouring Republic of Benin through the Creeks.

 At the last count, there  were about 110 filling stations between Akpa to the Owode town and 12 surface tanks spread  inside the bush. Past  Comptrollers of Seme Command,  a Border Community between Nigeria and Republic of Benin, were said to have made several  attempts to curtail the activities of the Petroleum Products  smugglers and bunkers  but no luck.

Another Abandon Filling station At Owode Axis

Investigations by the Value News reveal that the more  efforts they made to stop the  smuggling of the Petroleum Products  across the Border, the more new filling filling stations  were being constructed. The situation was so worrisome  until Muhammaed Uba Garba, a former Comptroller, of Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, was deployed to the Command, last August by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel, and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service , NCS, to sanitise the  busy Seme  International route and stop the stop the smuggling of Petroleum  products.

Muhammed was sad to have begun his underground investigation  about the  activities  of the petrol dealers in the Badagry west local government Area. He was said to have made  new  contacts who were ready to give him information. His major worry was how  the scores of filling stations  along the Owode road  are always going  out of stock where there are  no  human beings or good number  vehicles that ply the route that should be patronizing their services.

 The Customs Comptroller was said to have gotten  enough reason to swoop on the filling stations  at the Badagry west   but was  waiting for an auspicious moment do so. The opportunity came on Friday, December 7, 2019, but he kept a close guided secret.  Insiders told The Value News  that he had got enough information to attAck the smugglers  of the country’s Petroleum Products to Benin Republic but want to catch them in the act. He got it right.

 Inveestigation by The Magazine shows that since last Friday that the Seme Customs Comptroller  mobilised his men to raid the Badagry west,  it has thrown the Camp of the Petroleum  smugglers into disarray.  Many of them were said to have  deserted their filling stations  to avoid  running into the waiting hands of Muhammed’s men at Owode out station. The situation is so bad that owode/Akpa, which use to be a home of perleum products  dealers for easy of smuggling to neighboring Benin Republic  had suddenly  turned  to a home of abandon filling stations.  This  may have informed  why there have been  pressure on Temipre Sylva, a former  governor of  Bayelsa  state and now  minister  of state, Petroleum Resource, to use his position, to force the Director of DPR, to cancel operating licenses of the Petroleum products dealers  within  Owode and its environs to finally put to a stop to smuggling of the item to Benin Republic through the Creeks. 

The situation at Benin , according to sources have become so worrisome as Comptroller Muhammed had driven  the filling station owners  at Owode and its environs underground as they could  no longer engage in illegal activities  for now because of lack of supplies of petroleum Products from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation , NNPC, approved depots in Apapa, Lagos.

  The country , the source disclosed have been  hit by fuel scarcity, forcing motorists to  pay  higher than the country benchmark price for petrol  per litre. Worse hit  are the road-side   marketer s who sell in bottles , who were said to have been force out of the market

President  Patrick Talon, may have known that the country is  in trouble,  that the  country’s Customs Adminisration which was said to have made a truckload of  foreign parboiled rice,  heading to Nigeria, on the orders of Talon, was said to have extended invitation to the Nigerian Customs to come over  and witness the destruction of the items.

 The beninese President  may have t done so to gladden the heart of President Muhammadu Buhari to re-open the country’s Borders with the neighbouring closed since last August.  But Mohammed Sanusi, the Emir of Kano, would want the Borders across the country to remain closed  till further notice as that would reduce the  of the country’s petroleum products, considered to be cheap in the West African sub-region  because of the government subsidy to stop.

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