Rights activist calls for arrest of oil marketers

Solomon Ezeme

In the wake of the resurgent long queues for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly known as petrol at various filling stations across the country, Deji Adeyanju, a human rights activist and Convener of Concerned Nigerians, a civil society group, has called on the Federal Government to arrest and shut down filling stations owned by oil marketers.

He made this call in a 2-page letter sent to the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, on Monday

Adeyanju described the recent fuel scarcity reported to have been caused by contaminated fuel in circulation, as an act of sabotage by independent marketers on the economy and a ploy to take advantage of innocent Nigerians.

The rights activist jettisoned the idea that the commodity was not sold due to contamination and accused the independent marketers of causing persistent scarcity of petroleum products in the country through hoarding.

In his view, this act, if not stopped by the Government, has the propensity to increase the prices of the products and “cause artificial scarcity” that could cripple the economy and lead to widespread economic chaos.

He further explained that creating artificial scarcity that could wreck a nation’s economy for selfish reasons is a criminal offence under the Nigerian laws.

The letter reads: “As you may already know, in recent months independent marketers of petroleum products have engaged in speculative acts of hoarding petroleum products, particularly PMS, in a bid to criminally increase the prices, cause artificial scarcity and plunge the country into widespread economic chaos.

“For example, filling stations across the nation’s capital are littered with long queues of vehicles seeking to purchase fuel, while the independent marketers ensure that their filling stations are shut for the day by 6 pm.

“What is, however, deeply worrisome is that the regulators have not deemed it necessary to call these independent marketers to order but continue to allow them to take advantage of Nigerians.

“At a time when Nigerians are going through excruciating pain, artificial fuel scarcity is the last thing they should worry about.

“It is equally important to point out that causing artificial scarcity resulting in economic sabotage is a criminal offence under our laws.

“The Federal government must, therefore, put a halt to the ball-watching and take urgent steps to address the economic sabotage, especially as there is no reason for artificial scarcity at this time.

“Sequel to the foregoing, we call on the Federal government to arrest the offending marketers, shut their filling stations and bring this ongoing economic sabotage to an end.

“Nigerians deserve to buy fuel at an accessible rate any time.”

Nigerians, especially commercial drivers, recently woke up only to be faced with the reality that PMS with which they daily power their vehicles and go about their businesses, was in short supply due to contamination.

In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, long queues were reportedly seen at many filling stations, with several other closed because of the short supply.

Black marketers took advantage of people on the long queues, selling to them at exorbitant prices.

The development resulted in panic on the side of commuters and vehicle owners across the country.

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