Marketers in South-east Nigeria on Thursday explained why they cannot sell premium motor spirit, petrol at the regulated price of N145 per litre as being demanded by officials of Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR. The marketers spoke as officials of DPR continued clampdown on petroleum products marketers who refused to sell the petrol at the official price.
The team, led by Mr Anthony Douji from Enugu office, stormed eight filling stations which were selling at N250 per litre and forced them to revert to the official rate of N145 per litre. The DPR team monitored the stations as they dispensed the product at official rate to the delight of motorists in Awka and its environs.
However, Stanel filling station, near Nnamdi Azikiwe University and NNPC mega filling station at Amawbia near Awka, were both selling at N145 with long queues of vehicles that caused traffic hold up on the Enugu-Onitsha expressway. A marketer in Nanka, Orumba North, Pilar Pole filling station, had his outfit sealed for allegedly diverting two trucks of 40,000 litres each allocated to him as contained in the manifest of the DPR. Neither the owner nor the manager of the station showed up while the team was there but the pump attendants were busy selling at the exorbitant rate of N250.
The station was sealed and charged with diversion and hoarding of the product. Speaking on the development, Douji regretted that most marketers in Anambra were selling the product between N250 and N280 per litre and vowed that the DPR would make them to revert to the normal rate. He said those who lifted PMS from the NNPC were supposed to sell at N145, noting that refusal to comply with the directive would attract sealing their stations and charging them fine.
He challenged the marketers to show proof that they procured the product at above the depot price unless they did not have excuses to fleece their customers. “We have the manifest here, anybody who sells above the normal price will be made to revert and if after we leave, they go back to their practice, we will seal the station. “It is a continuous exercise until normalcy is restored in the system. “How can somebody get allocation for 80,000 litres from NNPC and he is still selling at N250; that was why we have to seal Pilar Pole for diversion and hoarding. “For those claiming that they bought at an exorbitant rate, all we demand is a proof that a particular depot is selling at an existing depot price and government will face such depots,” he said.
Chief Ikechukwu Etele, Managing Director of Ifenna Petroleum which was selling at N250 but was made to sell at N145, said he was being targeted for a crime he did not commit. Etele said the product he had was procured at N245 from independent marketers. He said that he, together with the marketers in the South East, had never bought the product from NNPC since about 14 years when the Enugu depot at Emene broke down. “We have been sourcing petroleum products from Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri and other places.
He said petrol scarcity and price hike would best be managed if NNPC expanded the supply channel beyond the major oil marketers. In a related development, petroleum marketers in Anambra said they would no longer condone the auctioning of their members’ products by the Federal Government in the bid to normalise price.
Chairman of the marketers in the state, Chief Cletus Obiokafor, said marketers could no longer be bearing the brunt for the inefficiency in the sector. Obiokafor said they would shut down their filling stations if the clampdown on them continued until they would able to buy at rates that would be profitable at N145. “The fault is not with us, it at the points where we load products; as I am talking to you I bought the products I am selling now at N235 and the content was short of 1,800 litres after it was discharged and I have paid. “As Chairman of marketers in Anambra, I cannot lie to you; anybody who tells you we are buying products at normal price and selling at N250 is not truthful. “If they continue to sell our members’ products at N145 without making it possible for us to buy at normal rate, IPMAN and other stakeholders shall meet and close down our filling stations; we cannot incur that loss anymore. “The Federal Government knows what to do to solve the problem; we are not responsible for it,” he said.