By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The petrolÂ scarcity rocking Ekiti State has reached a crisis state as black marketers have hijacked the process and now engageÂ in open hawking of the product.
The illicit business transaction was common in Ado Ekiti capital, IkereÂ and other towns across the state.
The petrol marketers had downed tools since last week Monday, predicating their actions on the threat by Governor Ayodele Fayose to demolish some filling stations built within residential areas.
This action led to the demolition of someÂ filling stations under the supervision of the governor, which provoked the marketers to declare indefinite strike.
The action was later followed by attack on two petrol stations in Ado Ekiti by unknown hoodlums, where aÂ filling stationÂ belonging to IPMANâ€™s Secretary in Ekiti, Alhaji Suleman Akinbami fell victim.
To add more strength to the industrial action, the national body of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria(IPMAN) and Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Union(NUPENG) cut petrol supply to the state.
WhenÂ the strike started, the black marketers cashed in on the situation and engaged in illicit businesses until the situation deteriorated.
Now, the marketers are having a field day as they openly hawk a litre for as much as N300 , instead of the N145 regulated price.
The drivers were the ones mostly engaging in the illicit business, because of their access to the neighbouring states of Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Kogi, where they purchased the product and brought down to Ekiti to make brisk businesses.
Products were openly displayed in 50 litre kegsÂ in Ojumose, old garage, Akure garage, Basiri and Oke Iyinmi areas of the Ado metropolis, while that of Ikere was being done in theÂ roundabout area and Oke Oja garage.
The commercial drivers and motorcyclists patronized them as they scampered to purchase it even at such exorbitant prices.
A black marketer, who identified himself as Tunde Ayelabowo said he had made a profit of over N300,000 since last week he commenced the illegal business.
â€œIn fact, to me it seems the strike should continue because I am making my money. I have been getting my fuel from Ondo State and I was getting regular supply to sell between N258 and N300 per litreâ€.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the State Command, Mr. Alberto Adeyemi, warned that the cops would deal decisively with whoever engaged in black marketing to cheat the system.
Adeyemi added that his men would be put on red alert to ward off such illicit business transaction , saying â€œwe wonâ€™t allow these saboteurs to cash in on the development to cause economic sabotage.
â€œBlack marketing is outlawed and it remains so and we beg the members of the public to give us information about the activities of those causing economic sabotage to our dear nationâ€.
However, an IPMAN ChieftainÂ in Ekiti, Akinbami, whose filling station was attacked a couple of days back has appealed to Governor Fayose to stop inciting the people against their business interests.
Akinbami disclosed that his members, both indigenes and non-indigenes were in Ekiti to perform their legitimate businesses asÂ patriotic Nigerians , saying assailing their fuel stations under the guise of venting angers over strike declared by fuel marketersÂ could be a great disservice to the stateâ€™s economy.
â€œWe are not here to cause trouble , because we have not foreclosed the possibility of dialogue as serious as this issue is. We are ready to return to work but the government must make the environment very friendly. Nobody is ready to lay down his life because of any business and a situation whereby peopleâ€™s stations are being attacked could cause further crisis rather than abating itâ€, he said.