By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
The Department of Petroleum Resources, (DPR) in Minna, Niger State has confirmed that seven of the eight trucks ladened with petrol intercepted by men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), in the state were actually being diverted to outlets outside the country through the borders along Babbana border flanks in Borgu Council Area of the state.
Eight trucks ladened with petrol, six of which had haulage capacities of 66,000 litres each and two with 33,000 litres each were accosted by personnel of the Corps along the bushes of Mokwa last Wednesday during a sting operation by operatives of the NSCDC.
The eight tankers were trapped and forced back to Minna, the Niger State capital by the security men who were detailed about the movement of the trucks along the notorious smugglers’ route.
Usman Ndanusa, a Deputy Director, Downstream Department at the DPR confirmed that seven of the eight trucks intercepted by vigilante men of the NSCDC were on their way out of the country to be smuggled out through the porous border at Babbana.
Fourteen persons have so far been arrested in connection with the alleged plan to smuggle the over 429,000 litres of petrol.
DPR said samples taken from the seized trucks would be sent to it’s laboratory to ascertain their genuiness after which the whole consignment would be given out to some major marketers to sell to public on behalf of the DPR.
Proceeds from the sales would be remitted into government’s coffers as deterrent action against the culprit owners of the trucks.
Sources within the DPR told newsmen that the 14 persons nabbed by operatives of the NSCDC had refused to say anything about the trucks and their contents during interrogations.
But our sources said the officials of the DPR were not daunted by the uncooperative attitudes of the persons as this was the usual antics of smugglers and their cronies to frustrate investigations.
Officials of the NSCDC has forwarded the trucks and their drivers to the DPR office in Minna for further actions.
The state command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps said it would continue to monitor the movements, distribution and sales of petrol in the state to prevent sharp practices by unscrupulous persons in the downstream sector of Nigeria’s petroleum sector.