By Bode Olushegun
Borno State Government on Thursday clamped down on 10 filling stations in Maiduguri for allegedly hoarding petroleum products.
According to a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Jidda, the state government threatened to shut down any other filling station caught with any illegal acts, especially hoarding of petroleum products or selling above the approved pump price.
“The Borno State Government has observed with dismay that some fueling stations operating within the state capital do not dispense petroleum products in accordance with federal government regulations.
“The fueling stations are also engaged in economic sabotage by hoarding petroleum products, and selling them above the approved price, the actions of these fueling stations, their owners and operators is condemnable as they deliberately take the advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to create untold hardship on the general public,” the statement read
The statement revealed that Tafida Bafari and Co. Ltd, Maazu Idris, Oil link, Total filling station, A. A. Rano Ltd, NAN NAM, Kai Masha Allahu, Alhaji Bukar Kolo, Guile and Kabs Merchant Ltd were among the fueling stations found wanting.
The statement said the governor “has directed the temporary withdrawal of their right of occupancy pending the process of revocation of the same in line with provisions of the Land Use Act and the powers vested in him by the same Act.”
The statement further read: “Government hereby warns other filling stations to desist from such act of economic sabotage as the Borno State Government will continue to monitor the activities of all filling stations and will not hesitate to take all necessary actions within the ambience of the law to bring them to justice.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) in Borno/Yobe states, Alhaji Muhammad Kuluwa said the association will wade into the problem, insisting that it was as a result of communication gap.
He said: “We have shortfall in allocation and that is the reason for the non-availability of fuel.”
He added that “we have even gone round to tell our members not to hoard fuel. We are going to go to the governor to talk things over with him.”
On the latest reduction in prices of petroleum products, he said: “We have not received any letter from the regulatory authorities as to the reduction but we have heard from the media.”
He advised that IPMAN should be carried along during decision on price reduction “so that we can add our input.”
He said: “It takes time for the system to adjust to the shock of change in prices,” pleading for the understanding of the government and the people.
In a related development, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) North-East zonal operations comptroller, Alhaji Ibrahim Ciroma; has warned independent and major marketers against hoarding and diversion of petroleum products during COVID-19 crises.
Findings revealed that though the global deadly virus, has not hit Borno and Yobe states but some filling stations in the two states have stopped dispensing fuel since Tuesday.
Ciroma, while unfolding measures on Thursday at a news conference in Maiduguri, said there was no basis for marketers to hoard petroleum products, as the DPR received 52 trucks of fuel this week.
He said: “We are everywhere in Maiduguri and Damaturu metropolis, to meet motorists’ demand for fuel. “Today (Thursday) we are expecting 10 trucks of fuel from Gombe,” noting that DPR found most filling stations not selling fuel, since the lockdown of Borno and Yobe states by Governors Babagana Zulum and Mai Mala Buni.
He lamented that with this action, the COVID-19 health crises may be compounded, stressing that DPR has devised means of checking fuel hoarding and diversions.
Speaking on adopted measures, Ciroma said: “We deploy our personnel to monitor all filling stations in the evenings, while selling fuel at official price of N125 a litre. “We also put the fuel marketers on close monitoring, so that they comply with official pump price and correct levels of dispensing fuel,” warning that if anyone is caught no one will be spared.
He urged the people to report all cases of hoarding and diversion by calling the zonal DPR on: 08056497084, 0805647095 and 08056497092.