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.
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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