Sylvester Idowu in Warri
In reaction to the picketing of some fuel stations by members of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) and supported by angry motorists in Warri, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) Warri Zonal Office on Saturday warned unauthorised individuals and groups to desist from harassing petroleum marketers in Warri and environs.
The Warri Zonal Operations Controller, Mr. Antai Asuquo gave the warning while reacting to the disruption of operations by CDHR members led by their chairman, Kehinde Taiga last Monday at Adane fuel station, owned by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) located along Deco road, Warri which was sealed by DPR last week but was unsealed and caught selling at N190 per litre.
The CDHR members, backed by Policemen from “B” Division, Warri headed by CSP Aniette Eyoh also picketed Eziton fuel station along Okere road and QRS fuel station opposite mobile police base along Airport road for selling at between N190 and N200 per litre to customers as against N145 official price.
THISDAY gathered that the manager at QRS fuel station scaled the back fence to escape from mob action by angry customers who were mainly keke riders that had been complaining about the astronomical price of petrol by marketers.
But reacting to the development, the Zonal Operations Controller of DPR said â€œWe did not authorise CDHR to conduct surveillance on our behalf, our officers are always on the field to enforce compliance to the government approved pump price of N145 per litre.
â€œThe public should note that the committee was on an illegal operation, we did not send them and neither did they act for us on our behalf, and we are going report the matter the appropriate authority.
“Like as I promised, we will stop at nothing to ensure there is full compliance to the approved pump price. We deploy two monitoring teams every working day to the field to ensure that we effectively covered all the Local Government Areas in Delta.
“We also revisit the already visited petrol stations to ensure they dispense at the approved pump price of N145 per litre to the consumers,” he said.
Asuquo said that the regulatory agency has sealed over 150 erring petrol stations in Delta since the fuel scarcity resurface in December 2017 adding that it would continue to enforce compliance.
He said the stations were sanctioned over offences bordering on hoarding, over-pricing, under-dispensing and diversion of products adding that substantial figure of the defaulters have been unsealed after paying their fines to the government.
Responding, Taiga said the committee decided to embark on the exercise because “the DPR had failed in their responsibility.
“We call it operation sell N145 or quit business, we visited three petrol stations, dispense fuel for over an hour in each of the station to people at N145, some even at no cost to some persons,” he said.
The CDHR leader called for the redeployment of the DPR boss within 21 days for ineptitude and alleged connivance of his personnel in shortchanging the poor masses of the town.
“If at the expiration of 21 days ultimatum, the Zonal Controller of DPR is not removed, CDHR will mobilise the poor people of the state on a protest to their office along Warri-Sapele road to seek for his redeployment. How come we have DPR office in Warri and all the fuel marketers, except few, are selling above government approved price under the nose of officials without any sanction”, he added.