Sunday, June 5, 2011

War: Libyan businessmen smuggle oil from Nigeria
Written by Taiwo Adisa, Abuja

The ongoing war of liberation in Libya has taken a new dimension following the discovery of a discreet but thriving oil smuggling business via Nigerian borders in Kebbi, Sokoto and Katsina States.

The recourse to Nigeria’s oil was said to have been mandated by the huge destruction to the oil supply chain in the war torn country.

Reports put together by different sources indicated that the spate of fuel scarcity that rocked parts of Northern Nigeria in recent weeks is attributable to the illegal oil business going on across Nigerian borders in the Northern part of the country.

It was gathered that much of the smuggled oil found their way to Libya to augment local supplies in view of the uncertainties surrounding life and living in the war ravaged country.

A source said that some of the towns mainly used included Kangiwa, Aliero, Marafa in Kebbi and Katsina States.

One government agency was said to have compiled a report detailing activities of the group involved in the smuggling activity, leading to a discreet government search for backers.

It was gathered that some Libyan businessmen discovered that to soften the biting effects of bombardments and war on their compatriots oil from Nigeria could be smuggled through some hidden channels into Libya.

Sources confirmed that the decision by the Libyan businessmen to source oil from Nigeria was largely informed by the wide landmass of Nigerian borders which makes free flow of human traffic easy across the borders.

“There are a lot of informal businesses daily going on between Nigerians and Chadians as well as Nigeriens. Much of this don’t go into the records.

“What happened was that the Libyans studied the situation around Nigerian borders and they latched in on it,” a source said.

It was also gathered that those behind the illegal fuel imports from Nigeria have discovered that a chunk of Nigerian fuel often gets into Chadian and Nigerien markets through the several land routes and that tapping fuel from Nigeria would only need little effort.

“It is a huge business going on there right now. Many of the Libyan businessmen have seen that to safeguard the local oil supply. In the face of the ongoing war, they have to augment with fuel from wherever. Nigerian northern borders seem to be providing the desired relief,” another source told Sunday Tribune.

It was, however, learnt at the weekend that at least one security outfit had stepped into the scene in an attempt to track those behind the illegal activities.

Sources also said that Nigerian authorities would not want to paint a picture of subtle involvement in the Libyan war, especially as the government is said to be sticking to the position of the African Union on the Libyan crisis.

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