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.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the task force comprised officials from the Nigerian Police, Departments of State Security Service, 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 for dispensing petroleum products, uncovered hidden storage tankers and 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 II, 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 Emos Waga who claimed to be licenced was also seized by the team while the operator arrested
Mrs Abdulkadir Maijiddah, Abuja Regional Coordinator, NMDPRA, said the monitoring and enforcement was an ongoing nationwide exercise and would continue to sanitise the industry.
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 usually sanctioned, fined and sealed.
“We have the mandate to arrest the station manager and seal the station once found guilty,” she added.
NMDPRA officials during the raid
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 and face the wrath of the law.
He added that security agencies, especially the military personnel were also being invited to handle the matters if found complex.
“Even if there is licence to sell petroleum products, there must be standards for one to operate within. 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 fuel at the station always 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 for transporting the products and bad roads.
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.”