Chinenye Anuforo

Following the directives by the Federal Government through the Nigeria Customs Service that supply of petroleum products to fuel stations located within 20 kilometres of Nigeria’s borders be suspended, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ALTON) has complained that the new policy has negatively impacted on its members’ operations.

The group in a letter to the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), urged the Commission to quickly intervene in the situation saying: “The directives is already having huge negative impact on our members’ operations and this may be significant if the necessary agencies of government do not urgently intervene in the situation.”

The letter continued that: “So far the Nigeria Customs Service has stopped our members’ trucks in Kebbi, Kano and Calabar from supplying diesel to the telecommunications sites within the borders areas, which may lead to a total shut down of communications system/services and by implications worsen the security operations within those areas.”

The letter, which was signed by ALTON Chairman Mr Gbenga Adebayo, requested “the immediate intervention of the Commission and the Federal Government as by midday on Saturday, November 9, 2019, major hub sites carrying heavy traffic will be shut down due to lack of diesel.”

The Federal Government had recently directed that the supply of petroleum products to filling stations within 20km of Nigeria’s borders be suspended.

Related: Nigeria suspends fuel supply to border stations

Customs Comptroller-General Hameed Ali issued the memo signed by Chidi A, the Deputy Comptroller General for Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection on Thursday, November 7, 2019.

The suspension of the supply of petroleum products to fuel stations around the country’s land borders is part of the ongoing Operation Swift Response by the Federal  Government to secure the borders from smuggling and contraband imports.

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The memo reads:

“The Comptroller-General of Customs has directed that henceforth, no petroleum product no matter the tank size is permitted to be discharged in any filling station with 20 kilometres of the border.

“Consequently, you are all to ensure strict and immediate compliance, please.”

Earlier, the former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum, Maikanti Baru, had raised concerns about the number of filling stations springing up in border towns.

He said the filling stations were funnels for fuel smuggling to neighbouring countries.

“There is a thriving market for Nigerian petrol in all the neighbouring countries of Niger Republic, Benin Republic, Cameroon, Chad and Togo and even Ghana which has no direct borders with Nigeria,” Baru has said.

Related: Outrage over FG’s fuel supply ban to Nigerians in border communities