Lagos lawyer and member of the inner bar, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on Thursday advised the Federal Government to reject pressure by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) to increase the pump price of fuel from N145.
He described as illegal the price increment from N145 to N250 in some parts of the country by IPMAN.
Falana said in a statement in Lagos on Thursday that the power to fix pump price of fuel is vested only in the Minister of Petroleum Resources Pursuant to Section 6 of the Petroleum Act
He said: “Since the power to fix the price of petrol is exclusively vested in the Minister of Petroleum Resources, the Federal Government should ignore the reckless threat of the fuel importers.
“Having repeatedly maintained that it has no plans to increase the price of petrol, the Federal Government should not succumb to the pressure of IPMAN which had promised Nigerians that the pump price would crash before the end of June 2016.”
Falana regretted that the Federal Government was meeting with the some stakeholders to consider the proposal of the fuel importers owing to blackmail by the IPMAN to accept a new increase in the pump price of fuel.
“Are we to believe that the alleged economic saboteurs as alleged in the New Year broadcast by Buhari have been granted amnesty to warrant the on-going meeting on the proposed increase in the pump price of petrol?” he asked.
He recalled that the Minister of Petroleum Resources increased the price of Premium Motor Spirit from N86 to N145 per litre in May 2016, noting that the increase was justified by the Federal Government as the only way out of the exorbitant prices of between N150 and N250 which Nigerians were subjected to at filling stations across the country.
“The Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, made it categorically clear that the new price would lead to improved supply and competition and eventually drive down pump prices, as experienced with diesel.
“In celebrating the new pump price, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) confidently gave an indication that the official pump price would crash within a month.
The IPMAN President, Chief Obasi Lawson said that ‘in less than one month, we will start reaping the benefits of the new policy.
“This new policy of the Federal Government that effected the change in price of the PMS is a welcome development and the PMS prices will start coming down soon’.
“However, in December last year, the price of petrol was illegally jerked up to N250 per litre by petroleum dealers in anticipation of another official increase in the pump price of PMS by the Federal Government.
“Despite the fact that the Nigerian people were exposed to unwarranted pain and anguish as a result of the artificial scarcity of petrol in the country, the IPMAN has mounted pressure on the Federal Government to increase the price of petrol.
“As if that was not enough, the IPMAN has threatened not to import fuel into the country if the price is not increased,” the lawyer-activist noted.
Falana advised the government to call the bluff of fuel importers and embark on the construction of modular refineries without any further delay instead of waiting for the Dangote Refinery which may not be operational until December 2019.