Popular Nigerian human rights activist, Femi Falana, criticized the Federal Government yesterday for allowing private firms to control petroleum product pricing.
However, he vowed to file a complaint of contempt against the governmental officials in control of the oil sector.
In a statement, Falana said: “With due respect, the Buhari administration illegally pushed out the claimed deregulation of the goods.
“It is well known that the Federal Government, acting through the NNPC, is the only party bringing petroleum into the nation while claiming to be subsidizing the export of the commodity. How then can the Federal Government allow for private businesses or the alleged forces of the market to set the price of the same good?
“Chief Sylva stated that Compressed Natural Gas, or CNG, would be an alternate fuel source that would cost between N95 and N97 per liter to make gasoline more accessible throughout the nation in July 2020.
A year or so later, the Minister said that the Federal Government had set aside N250 billion for willing investors in autogas assembly factories throughout the nation as part of measures to ensure that the conversion of automobiles to run on natural gas produced the intended outcomes.
The Federal Government needs to explain to Nigerians why the switch from PMS to CNG was halted.
Contrary to Chief Sylva’s assertion, the Federal Government is legally required to determine and fix the prices of petroleum products, including premium motor spirit, kerosene, and cooking gas, as a result of the combined effect of Section 4 of the Price Control Act and Section 316 of the Petroleum Industry Act.
The Federal Government should stop subjecting the Nigerian people to the agonizing economic crisis by allowing the so-called market forces to decide and fix the prices of petroleum products in the nation, given the clear statutory provisions and decided cases on the illegality of the deregulation of any aspect of the petroleum industry.
“We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct Chief Sylva to stop treating the rulings of the Federal High Court and the Supreme Court with contempt because they are still in effect and are legal, says the Minister of Petroleum Resources. Otherwise, we won’t think twice about starting a contempt case against the government officials in charge of the oil sector.”