The House of Representatives on Tuesday demanded an immediate halt to the implementation of a directive by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, that petrol should no longer be supplied to communities within 20-kilometre radius of the land borders.
The resolution followed the consideration and adoption of a motion on matters of urgent public importance brought by Sada Soli Jibia (APC, Katsina), drawing attention to the untold hardship the directive had brought on his constituents.
The motion titled, ‘The need to halt the operations of the Nigeria Customs Service restricting the supply of petroleum products to towns within 20 kilometres of the Nigerian border”, was seconded by Bello Kaoje (APC, Kebbi).
The operation is said to have been aimed at discouraging the smuggling of petroleum products outside the Nigerian borders.
“The inhabitants of these border towns are already feeling the brunt of the border closure, to now deny them petroleum products which will adversely affect hospitals, businesses, the supplementing of the source of epileptic power, etc, without due consultation and enlightenment is most insensitive to the plight of these Nigerians,” Soli stated.
He noted that being from Jibia in Katsina State, which is also a border community, he had seen firsthand the adverse effects of this operation as the price of petroleum had skyrocketed beyond what was the reach of the common man.
The lawmaker prayed the House to call the Customs Service to order as the action was unconstitutional.
Also contributing to the debate, Abdullahi Abdulkadir stated that the decision of the Nigeria Customs Service was “draconian” and aimed at increasing the level of suffering of the people without consideration for the effects. He called on the Nigeria Customs to reverse the decision.
Fatuhu Mohammed stated that the people in his constituency in Daura of Katsina State were suffering immeasurably, insisting that the Customs Service be sensitive to them as Nigerians and reverse the policy.
On his part, Mohammed Umar decried the uncontrollable increase of petroleum products prices in the affected areas and called on the House to come to the aid of Nigerians who are suffering as a result of the directive. The motion was then voted on and adopted.
The directive is also taking toll on telecommunications network providers.
According to the chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, telecommunications companies are already bearing the brunt and the situation might deteriorate if not properly handled.
He said the inability of the petrol stations to get fuel made it difficult for telecoms firms to refill power generators at their base stations that power their towers.
According to Adebayo, if the ban continues, it might lead to the shutdown of communications services, and the adverse impact “may be significant if the necessary agencies of government do not urgently intervene in the situation.”