DPR Fines 79 Fuel Marketers N20.3m For Sharp Practices
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has fined 79 petroleum marketers N20.3 million for engaging in sharp practices during the severe scarcity of petrol that hit major cities and states across the country between December 2017 and February 2018.
LEADERSHIP gathered that petroleum marketers and depot operators escalated the fuel crisis situation, prompting the DPR, the regulatory agency to dispatch personnel to ensure compliance with government directive on supply and distribution strategies and enforce existing pump price regime.
LEADERSHIP investigation on the outcome of the enforcement by the industry regulator revealed that many marketers took advantage of the scarcity to divert, hoard and illegally enrich themselves by selling above regulated pump price. Our correspondent gathered that Kano state recorded the highest number of culprits with 33 filling stations fined for various infractions ranging from price violations, hoarding, operating without licences as well as products diversion.
Warri in Delta state had 15 stations fined for various offenses like over-pricing and under dispensing, while in Imo state, four filling stations were caught selling above recommended pump prices. According to information exclusively obtained by LEADERSHIP from the DPR, eight dispensing outlets in Enugu state were found to be dispensing above approved pump price, and in Lagos four stations were fined for offenses ranging from over-pricing, operating without licence and under dispensing. States like Gombe, Cross River, Gombe and Benue had the least fined marketers.
According to DPR records, Gombe had two stations fined, while Makurdi and Calabar had one marketer sanctioned each. The highest fine, N1.6 million was paid by an independent market operator (Dagbeyiwa and Sons) in Warri Delta state, along police station road for under dispensing, followed by Amefua Investment, N1 million also in Warri, while Chrisvan Petroleum in Warri; and JIB Walia Nigeria in Kano state were also fined N1 million each for violation of seal. Other fines ranged from N400,000, N200,000 and N100,000 depending on the strength of the marketers offense.
LEADERSHIP also gathered that total money in sanctions from January to February 2018 amounted to about N20, 350, 000 only out of which Total Nigeria Plc paid N400,000 to secure opening of its station after it was sealed for under dispensing. The station is based in Makurdi, Benue state. Statistics from the DPR showed that eight stations were sealed and fined in Kano state during the period in review but it could not be ascertained as at the time of going to press if the stations have been unsealed but the document however did not indicate they have made any payment.
It would be recalled that during the period, the NNPC was suspicious that the bulk of products sent out for distribution across the country were being diverted to states where they are being sold above the approved retail pump price of N145 per litre. During the last fuel crisis, the NNPC group managing director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, alleged that over 4,500 trucks of petroleum products were diverted to unknown destinations by unnamed marketers. Dr. Baru made the allegation when he appeared before the joint Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) of the National Assembly.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, also told the same committee that internal and external diversion of petroleum products was a cause of the scarcity. He explained that the external diversion involved fuel being smuggled to neighbouring countries, while the internal involved products taken to the hinterlands and sold at almost double the approve pump price, despite ex-depot price remaining at N133.25 per litre.
But the executive secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketing Association (DAPPMA), Mr. Olufemi Adewole, countered in a statement that members have paid for petrol supplied (with bank funds) for over one month, the value of which is in excess of N90 billion, yet PPMC/NNPC had no cargo to allocate to them.
“It is an indisputable fact that DAPPMA members have paid for petrol supply (with bank funds) for over one month, the value of which is in excess of N90bn, yet PPMC/NNPC had no cargo to allocate to them. As such, how can we be held responsible for hoarding? “PPMC/NNPC do not transact business with DAPPMA members on credit, hence we are not aware of any indebtedness to PPMC/NNPC by our members. We again reject any attempt to blame marketers for the shortfall in supply as it is not our making since NNPC has been the sole importer since October, 2017.
“Marketers have continued to sacrifice to keep the country wet with fuel despite over N600bn debt owed our members and over N800bn owed marketers as a whole by the federal government. We assure Nigerians, irrespective of NNPC’s stance that all possible steps are being taken as we have always done, to co-operate with PPMC/NNPC to eliminate the fuel queues nationwide within the next few days,”Adewole said.