The House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on the Volume of Fuel Consumed Daily in Nigeria has commenced a probe into the auctioning of seized Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) by the Nigeria Customs Service.
The green chamber also ordered the agency to immediately provide details of the seized and auctioned.
Explaining the madalties for auctioning the products, Comptroller-General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), when he appeared before the committee on Wednesday explained that Service needs a court order to auction other petroleum products except for petrol.
Represented by the Deputy Comptroller General (Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection), Etim Edorhe, hre veiled this responding to questions on imported petroleum products being smuggled to the neighbouring countries.
His words: “So, Customs is not folding its hands, we are doing our work. The borders are there, we have the joint border patrol in place. Yes, we are daily intercepting these items as they attempt to move out, some of them in tankers, some of them in drums, then in jerry cans. And some of these smugglers have this ingenuity of having petroleum products in polymer bags that you would not know. But daily, we seize them. We are always ahead of whatever method they adopt. I just told you, I took record of what happened in 2021, which I am going to give to you. In 2021, a total of 2,278,297 litres and with a duty paid value to the tune of N501,514,178,692.50 (was intercepted.”
He however noted that the seized petroleum products do not require a court injunction before being auctioned.
“When you make intercept inflammable products, you don’t keep them because of the possibility of fire around the premises. So, such items are auctioned and the money paid into the Federation Account.”
In the same vein, a member of the committee, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, urged the lawmakers to probe into the seizures and auctions in order to satisfy the public that these things were properly managed.
In his ruling, the Chairman of the committee, Abdulkadir Abdullahi, ordered that, “The product seized, the auctions, the payments and the auctioneers and those who bought (the auctioned petroleum products) should be made available to us.”
“We don’t want to leave any stone unturned so that we can look at these things critically and positively. He came with the list of the seized products but he didn’t give us an orderly. So, I ask that he gives it to us so we can also cross-check. He may wish to tender that.”
The NCS Boss responded by saying, “I am going to give you that; I will get back with the figure from 2015 to 2021.”
Also, the chairman of the committee, who gave Customs seven days ultimatum to provide the details, directed the Clerk to write the Comptroller-General of the NCS to “give us the full details of the products seized, auctioned, the auctioneers, the volume, the value ad any other related matter to this application.”