Oil marketers, importing petrol into the country under the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) scheme have alleged that agents of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) are collecting Temporary Importation Permit (TIP) of N2 million and additional unofficial fee of $30,000 for any foreign-flagged vessel laden with petroleum products.
The marketers alleged the existence of flourishing regime of extortion estimated at N3 billion annually, being run by men and officers of the NCS through coercion of oil importers with illegal monetary demands to facilitate the release of foreign vessels laden with petroleum products.
Marketers, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, disclosed the existence of an extortion scheme that was allegedly sanctioned by the top echelon of the Nigerian Customs.
“The scheme involves the extortion of $30,000 from agents by customs officials each time a foreign vessel bearing petroleum products berths at the ports. Averagely, 40 of such vessels arrive the nation’s shores every month, bringing the total amount raked in by the scheme to about N3 billion per annum. These payments are not receipted,” said one of the oil importers.
However, in a swift reaction to this, Deputy Comptroller of Customs and spokesman of the Nigeria Customs Service, Wale Adeniyi said at the weekend that the marketers “do not pay a dime as import duties for petrol,” adding also that payment of TIP is paid only on goods meant for re-export and not for imported petrol.
“TIP is paid for things you import into Nigeria and re-export. TIP cannot be for fuel. For example, if you are coming into Nigeria for exhibition, you pay TIP in case you divert the materials to Nigeria,” he explained.
Adeniyi described the allegation as false, stressing that marketers do not pay any official import duties, let alone unofficial as alleged.