By Tope Sunday, Bureau Chief, North Central
As fuel scarcity hits harder and remains unabated across the country, no fewer than 30 trucks of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol are diverted from Kwara State to Benin Republic daily, SECURITY MONITOR, has gathered.
The product, which is sold between #160 and #140 in some parts of the state per litre, according to this medium’s checks, are reportedly smuggled out of the state through Ilesha Baruba-Chikada route in Baruteen Local Government area of the state to Benin Republic.
It was further gathered that a litre of PMS is sold in Chikada, which is a neighbouring town to Benin Republic, at #220 and #160 in Kosubosu, the local government Headquarters.
Recently, the Minister of state for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwa, said that about 30 per cent of the fuel imported into the country is diverted to neighbouring countries.
A Baruteen Local Government staff, who did not what his name in the media, alleged that the petroleum product is diverted on the daily basis between night and early morning despite the multiple security check points comprising of Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Immigration Services, Nigerian Police Force and the Department of State Security respectively on the route.
Also, a resident of the area, Mr. Ja’far Kane, who spoke on behalf other residents of the area, accused smugglers of inflicting hardship on the people of the state because of their selfish interest.
He also accused elders, stakeholders and security agents in the area of complicity, alleging that they collect ‘kick-back’ from smugglers.
“Most of the stakeholders here collect their own shares of fuel on monthly basis. Therefore, I don’t think they will question them. There is no second name to it, drivers give bribe to the necessary stakeholders to carry out the sharp practices.
“There was a time people in Chikada stood against such practices but they were told to stop by security agencies, threatening that they will be arrested.
“And you know, people like me cannot single-handedly stop them, but I’m ready to bear witness and I can testify anytime if anybody asks me”, he alleged.
Kane continued: “There is no night that between 20 to 30 trucks of 33,000 litres of PMS will not pass through Baruten-Chikada route to Benin Republic. Most of them pass from the middle of the night till the next morning and even noon sometimes.
” As I’m talking to you, if you go to Chikada now, you will see more than 20 trucks just passing and only few filling stations are selling fuel; this is as a result of fuel diversion.
” But to one’s dismay, there is full presence of security agencies like Customs, Immigration, Police and DSS on the route, despite that smugglers have their ways to Benin Republic at the detriment of the Nigerian people.
” I have never heard of any arrest from these security agencies. I even learnt that they brought more security personnel who are even doing secret investigation but we have never heard of any arrest”.