As part of efforts to curb smuggling of Petroleum Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, continues, the Niger State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps on Wednesday arrested 16 persons in an attempt to divert products to Benin Republic.
The State Commandant of the NSCDC, Philip Ayuba, said while parading the suspects that out of the eight trucks seized by his men, six are gigantic 66,000 litres each and the remaining two trucks are 33,000 litres and 40,000 litres, totalling over 497,000 litres of petrol.
Ayuba said the suspects usually park at a particular spot in the evenings, waiting for their turn to smuggle the product to Benin Republic through Babana.
According to Ayuba: “All the suspects were arrested at Mokwa town and from the way bills with them, they had passed the spot where they were supposed to have discharged the PMS, which confirmed that they were going to smuggle the products.”
He added that the arrests were made following tip off by concerned Nigerians who had followed the activities of the smugglers for some time.
Among those arrested were the drivers whose names were given as Fatai Sulaiman, Ajibade Wasiu, Abbdulganiyu Abdulkhadir, Sani Ibrahim, Salihu Musa, Abdulganiyu Abdullahi, Fatai Atanda and Rilwanu Sanusi.
While appreciating the role played by patriotic Nigerians, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Department of Petroleum Resources, Ayuba said they all cooperated with the organisation to facilitate the arrest of the suspects.
Ayuba said the Commandant General of the NSCDC, Alhaji Mohammed Abdullahi Gana, had directed that the suspects and the vehicles with their contents be handed over to the Corporation.
Ayuba warned against all forms of smuggling, saying it was an act of economic sabotage, which carries stiff penalties.
One of the suspects, Rilwan Sanusi from Oyo State, in an interview said they were “resting” at Mokwa two days after they left Lagos depots.
He said: “We left Lagos on the 20th of January and we are supposed to go to Kebbi State, but we decided to wait a little, that was when we were arrested.
“I cannot explain why we passed where we were supposed to have discharged the petrol.”
The team from the NNPC however did not speak with the press.