Petrol Stations Shut Down in Nigeria’s Northeast Over Anti-Smuggling Crackdown


Petrol Stations Shut Down in Nigeria’s Northeast Over Anti-Smuggling Crackdown, Forcing Motorists to Black Market

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YOLA, Nigeria, June 24 (Reuters) – Nearly 2,000 petrol stations in Nigeria’s northeast have ceased operations in protest against an anti-smuggling campaign that targeted some operators, according to the local head of the petroleum marketers association on Monday. This shutdown has forced motorists to turn to the black market for fuel.

Dahiru Buba, chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) for Adamawa and Taraba states, stated that petrol stations halted their operations after the Nigeria Customs Service impounded tanker trucks and closed certain fuel outlets on suspicion of smuggling petrol to neighboring Cameroon.

Black market fuel vendors in countries like Cameroon, Benin, and Togo have long depended on cheap gasoline smuggled from Nigeria. The black market trade collapsed when Nigeria ended a petrol subsidy last year but has seen a resurgence since Nigeria capped fuel prices in June 2023 despite the sharp weakening of its currency.

Under “Operation Whirlwind,” Customs initially impounded some tanker trucks belonging to IPMAN members but released them after protests from the association. However, as more trucks were seized and more fuel stations were shut down, petrol station operators decided to close their outlets en masse in protest, Buba explained.

“We wrote to the Nigeria Customs again but received no response, which is why we decided to go on strike,” Buba said, noting that over 1,800 outlets had stopped operating. “This is our business, and we cannot remain silent when our members are treated this way.”

Mangsi Lazarus, spokesperson for Customs in Adamawa and Taraba, confirmed that the tanker trucks were seized because they were being used to smuggle petrol.

In Yola, the capital of Adamawa, black market traders quickly exploited the shortages, selling petrol for 1,400 naira ($0.9459) per liter, compared to the pump prices of 650 to 750 naira.

Bisi Adele, The Naija247news
Bisi Adele, The Naija247news
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