President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the suppliers of the substandard Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise called petrol, must be held accountable.
This is just as the House of Representatives said it will probe the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accused the All Progressives Party (APC), the ruling party, of cover-up.
- Reps investigate leakages, explosions at oil fields
- BUK mass comm alumni to mark 40th anniversary with public lecture
Buhari gave the directive Thursday in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
The presidency said the issue of petroleum product shortages was linked to the inadvertent supply of products of foreign origin into the Nigerian market.
The president also directed that in line with the law, service providers must make full disclosure of relevant information with respect to the consumption of their products and that dissatisfied consumers were entitled to a proper redress of their complaints.
He also gave directives to the relevant government agencies to take every step, in line with the laws of the country, to ensure the respect and protection of consumers against market abuses and social injustices.
On Wednesday, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, promised that the federal government will launch an investigation to unravel the circumstances behind the circulation of adulterated petrol with methanol quantities above the country’s specification.
Earlier, on Tuesday, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), confirmed the circulation of adulterated petrol with methanol quantities above the country’s specification.
At least 100 million litres of adulterated Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) were said to be in circulation in the country.
Fuel queues that resurfaced after the incidents in parts of the country, especially Lagos and Abuja have not subsided.
Our inspectors did not test for methanol – NNPC
On Thursday, the CEO/Group Managing Director of NNPC Ltd, Mallam Mele Kyari, in a statement said while its inspectors tested and certified all the imported cargo of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from Belgium, the test did not include that of methanol.
He said the PMS cargo imports were tested and certified both in Belgium where they came from and by an inspection agent appointed by the NMDPRA on arrival.
However, Kyari who had met with oil marketers on the issue on Wednesday said “It is important to note that the usual quality inspection protocol employed in both the load port in Belgium and our discharge ports in Nigeria do not include the test for per cent methanol content and therefore the additive was not detected by our quality inspectors.”
Kyari also named the importers under the NNPC Direct-Sale-Direct-Purchase (DSDP) programme.
He said on January 20, 2022, NNPC received a report from its quality inspector on the presence of emulsion particles in PMS cargoes shipped to Nigeria from Antwerp-Belgium.
The NNPC investigation revealed the presence of methanol in four PMS cargoes imported by the DSDP suppliers which are MRS through MT Bow Pioneer vessel; Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium using MT Tom Hilde; Oando using MT Elka Apollon vessel and Duke Oil (NNPC subsidiary) using MT Nord Gainer.
The four cargoes were all lifted from LITASCO Terminal in Antwerp-Belgium.
The NNPC boss said the cargoes quality certificates issued at load port (Antwerp-Belgium) by AmSpec Belgium indicated that the gasoline complied with Nigerian specifications.
“The NNPC quality inspectors including GMO, SGS, GeoChem and G&G conducted tests before discharge and also showed that the gasoline met Nigerian specification,” Kyari added.
Importers deny role
Meanwhile, some firms which formed part of a consortium named by NNPC Ltd in the import of the contaminated petrol have denied their role.
Emadeb/Hyde/Aymaikifi/Brittania-U is the consortium among the four firms that imported petrol on behalf of NNPC from Belgium in January 2022, but in a statement yesterday, it exonerated itself, blaming Brittania-U Nigeria Ltd.
“Brittania-U Nigeria Limited (Brittania-U) was the sole supplier of the 90,000MT of PMS delivered via MT Torm Hilde with Laycan January 2 to 4, 2022.
“At the formation of the Consortium in May 2021 by NNPC, Brittania-U refused to execute the Service and Consortium Agreement submitted to NNPC in fulfilment of the award of the DSDP Contract.
“Emadeb as the lead of the consortium engaged Brittania-U severally and they insisted on dealing with NNPC independently.
“NNPC was expressly notified about this by the other consortium members via a letter dated June 2, 2021.”
Thus Brittania-U solely operates on its own, Emadeb clarified on behalf of the other two firms, noting that they had delivered 270,000MT of petrol in five months and certified by the NNPC-nominated inspector without complaint.
Victims to get compensation – FCCPC
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has said victims of the contaminated petrol would be compensated as soon as all matters are resolved.
The commission, in a statement issued by the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive, Babatunde Irukera, said FCCPC is engaging multiple regulators and stakeholders involved in the PMS distribution value chain.
“The commission is continuing engagement, particularly with respect to a reasonable and acceptable mechanism to mitigate demonstrated injury and or loss experienced by consumers,” Irukera said.
Reps probe NNPC, SON, others
Similarly, the House of Representatives on Thursday mandated its committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to investigate the importation and release of the adulterated petrol to sanction the culprits and avoid recurrence.
Those to be investigated include NNPC Ltd, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the Nigeria Customs Service and other regulatory agencies.
This followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance on the need to investigate the issue by Rep Mohammed Tahir Monguno at plenary.
Monguno said there was sudden scarcity of petrol with the attendant queues at petrol stations especially in Abuja and Lagos based on the adulterated petrol which also damaged vehicles.
Rep Onofiok Luke said besides holding all the culprits to account, there was the need to pay compensation to those whose vehicles have been affected by the adulterated fuel.
Rep Abubakar Fulata said the importation of the adulterated fuel was not an accident but a deliberate act that must not be handled lightly while Rep Toby Okechukwu said the regulatory agencies have failed woefully in their duties and also called for compensation of the victims.
Rep Isiaka Ayokunle in the amended motion said the quality control certificate of all imputed petroleum products within three months should be investigated.
PDP seeks probe, accuses APC of cover-up
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alerted Nigerians of an attempt by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to provide official cover for leaders of its party reportedly involved in the criminal importation of toxic fuel.
It called for an independent investigation of the issue as a statement by Hon. Debo Ologunagba, National Publicity Secretary of the party, said the toxic fuel saga is an indication of the “impunity and wickedness of the APC towards Nigerians.”
By Muideen Olaniyi, Itodo Daniel Sule, Faruk Shuaibu, Simon E. Sunday, Baba Martins (Abuja) & Eugene Agha (Lagos)