NNPC enlists DSS, EFCC to tackle fuel crisis
• DPR seals off defaulting filling stations in Kaduna
TO end the fuel scarcity in the country, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is engaging the Department of State Services (DSS) and Economic and the Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to check the hoarding and diversion of petroleum products by some unscrupulous marketers.
The NNPC in Abuja yesterday said the engagement of the security agencies was also meant to assist in the monitoring of nationwide fuel truck out to retail outlets.
While apologising to commuters, motorists and the general public for the noticeable hardship faced in accessing petrol across the country, NNPC assured that it was doing everything possible to normalise the fuel supply and distribution situation.
As the scarcity worsened in Kaduna metropolis, officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) yesterday imposed severe penalty on independent petrol stations for diverting products to the black market and selling at unofficial pump prices to the public.
Meanwhile, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has expressed dismay over the recurring fuel scarcity in the last few weeks, noting that the development had crippled the economy and made life unbearable for the ordinary Nigerian.
In a statement, yesterday by the Chairman of TMG, Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, the group said that the handling of the issue by both the President as Minister of Petroleum Resources and his Minister of State, Ibe Kachikwu, who traveled at a time were suffering from fuel scarcity, betray what Nigerians may have bargained for, when they massively voted for change at the March 28, 2015 presidential election.
The TMG chairman noted that the recent shortage of fuel witnessed across the country had cost Nigerians monumental economic losses, as beyond wasting man-hours at filling stations waiting for petrol, the scarcity was breeding inflation and the attendant high fares were impacting on the cost of goods and services.
According to him, “For an economy struggling to adapt to the six month- old administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the consequence of this new round of scarcity, is to say the least, most damaging. With the current liquidity squeeze in the system, as well as the meagre N18,000 minimum wage, which can hardly take the average Nigerian worker home, TMG is disturbed that the fuel scarcity would further impoverish Nigerians.’’
He noted that it was disappointing that long after the Buhari administration announced that most of the refineries, which were hitherto comatose, had begun to produce refined products, including petrol, the country still found itself in the acute shortage of the product.
Speaking during a working visit to the NNPC depot in Suleja in Niger State and some filling stations in Abuja and its environs to evaluate the fuel supply situation, the Group Executive Director Commercial and Investment of the Corporation, Dr. Babatunde Adeniran, said any marketer found wanting in the sale of petroleum products including the NNPC retail outlet dealers, would be sanctioned appropriately.
Providing insight into the role of the security agencies in curbing product diversion, the Managing Director of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, Mrs. Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue said the DSS and EFCC had been mobilised to bring to book any marketer involved in sabotaging the efforts of the Federal Government in making petroleum products available to motorists across the country.
“We have invited the EFCC and DSS to join us in this campaign of monitoring the movement of petroleum products and they have our mandate to sanction any errant marketer. Enough is enough,” Mrs. Nnamdi-Ogbue cautioned.
She urged Nigerians and other motorists to desist from panic buying, assuring that there was sufficient petroleum to satisfy local consumption.
One of the filling stations in Kaduna, Samrada Petrol Station, Ungwar Romi was sealed off after officials of DPR had ordered the petrol attendants to dispense the fuel in its underground tank to motorists and motorcyclists free of charge for hoarding the product.
The officials from the department’s Monitoring Unit said the attendants were caught hoarding a total of 19,500 litres of fuel.
They also argued that the agency during its routine inspection of petrol stations across the state discovered that the petrol station sold at above the N87 per litre pump price at night.
The DPR monitoring group lamented: “This is even as the scarcity is getting worse day by day. While many filling stations are under lock and key, black marketers have taken over the major streets, determining the price at which to sell the product to motorists.”
The DPR officials also ordered another filling station along Romi road to revert to the N87 pump price as against the N135 it was selling to customers when the officials arrived.
The owner of the filling station was fined N100,000 for selling above the pump price.
The DPR officials led by the Kaduna Zonal Controller, Alhaji Usman Ndanusa, also swooped on the Samrada station following a tip-off from concerned citizens that the management of the station was hoarding the product.