By Emmanuella Anokam
The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) in collaboration with the Joint Task Force on Jerrycan Peddlers on Tuesday raided and arrested some illegal petroleum products sellers to sanitise the industry.
The team, during monitoring and enforcement in Abuja, in view of the current fuel scarcity seized over 1,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) Diesel from illegal peddlers.
Three of the peddlers were charged for illegal sale of the products at the Area 1 Mobile Court, with an assurance from the team that more would be prosecuted.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the task force comprised of officials from the Nigerian Police, Departments of State Security, the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Correctional Centre, the Military and Mobile Court.
The team, during the exercise stormed some illegal areas used for dispensing petroleum products and uncovered hidden storage tankers.
They seized containers containing diesel and PMS stored in different litres of Jerrycans from the black-marketers.
Some areas raided by the team included Central Business District, near TotalEnergies fuel station, AZMAN filling station area, close to Police Headquarters, Area 11, AYA and Area 3.
An illegal tanker and dispenser of petroleum products, located at Central Business District, near a popular hotel in Abuja and being operated by Mr Amos Waga who claimed to be licenced was also seized by the team.
The operator was eventually arrested.
Mrs Abdulkadir Maijiddah, Abuja Regional Coordinator, NMDPRA, said the monitoring and enforcement was an ongoing nationwide exercise and would continue until the industry was sanitised.
Maijiddah said that it was only licenced entities that were supposed to distribute and sell petroleum products and anyone who wished to be a player in the industry must follow due process.
“We go out everyday to carry out this raid with AEPB and other security agencies. It is a collaborative effort.
“As we are all aware there is fuel scarcity everywhere, we want to see that every peddler is taken off the street.
“What we just saw now is unbecoming of anybody. This product is highly volatile and then they had the audacity to hide themselves here claiming to be licenced; they are not licenced.
“And, they are selling these products illegally, they are not supposed to be on the street peddling petroleum products whether regulated or not,” she said.
Speaking on the filling stations that dispense fuel to the black markers, the coordinator warned that any station found guilty would be sanctioned, fined and sealed.
“We have the mandate to arrest the station manager and seal the station once found guilty,” she added.
She recalled that the authority recently met with the petroleum marketers and also emphasised that it was no longer business as usual and anyone caught would be sanctioned.
Speaking, Mr Kaka Bello, Assistant Director, Monitoring and Enforcement, AEPB, said those caught would be prosecuted.
“Even if there is licence to sell petroleum products, there must be standards for one to operate. You cannot occupy a road corridor, selling products, even if you are licenced,” he said.
Speaking with NAN, Mr Peter Okpe, Manager, TotalEnergies fuel station, Central Business District, said there was availability of fuel always at the station because it was considered a priority station for distribution.
Okpe urged the government to address the major issues causing the scarcity, especially the high cost of diesel used for transporting the products.
He also urged government to ensure that the bad portions of the roads were repaired.
On the issue of black marketers, he said, “I have been in this business for long, the black marketers go to faraway places, especially outskirt of the town to buy the products.” (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Isaac Aregbesola