The National UNion of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers on Thursday urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission to extend their searchlights to petroleum products loading activities at private depots.
Tokunbo Korodo, the South West Chairman of the union, told the News Agency of Nigeria that this became imperative because private depots were loading petroleum above the government approved price.
Korodo alleged that after the independent marketers had paid N77.66 per litre, which is the approved rate by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, marketers would still be forced to pay sundry amounts into a private account to make it N94 per litre.
The chairman said the tankers would not be loaded by the depot managers until they received alerts crediting the private account.
He said it was wrong for major marketers to go to private depots to load since they had their own depots, stressing that this was the reason they could not sell at the approved price of N87 per litre.
Korodo said: “It is only the major marketers and NNPC outlets that sell at the official price because they don’t have to struggle to get the product.
“It is the duty of their marketers to get the product and send to them.
“But independent marketers don’t have depot of their own, so they have to struggle to get the product from NNPC depots.
“Unfortunately, the depots have not been loading because of the activities of vandals.
“The vandals have prevented NNPC from pumping enough fuel to its depots, thereby forcing the independent marketers to patronise private depot owners.
“These private depot owners depend on NNPC to get the product because they don’t have money to import the product.
“Out of the over 50 private depots in Lagos, NNPC is using only six private depots for loading the product, thereby creating congestion in the depot.
“At the depot, independent marketers will be asked to first pay N77.66 to NNPC account, which is the official price per litre, but before loading, marketers are required to pay another N17 into a private account.
“The truck would not be loaded until confirmation is received from bank that the money has been paid.
“With that additional money, a litre of petroleum at private depot cost N94 per litre.
“This N94 per litre excludes the transportation of the product.
“If transportation is added, depending on the area, for example if Lagos, N3 will be added to make it N97 to get it to the filling station.
“Now, how do you expect somebody that buys a litre of petroleum for N97 to sell it for N87 at his filling station?
“Even, when they decide to make little profit by selling for just N100 per litre, the Department of Petroleum Resources will come and seal their petrol stations.
“The same DPR that failed to do its work at the depot will now be selective in sealing filling stations.
“If this continues, Nigerians will suffer for the scarcity of the product because independent marketers will not load until sanity returns to depots.”
Korodo urged the DPR and NNPC to open more chains of distribution to allow the product to be available to all and sundry.
He also urged the Federal Government to investigate the process of loading at the private depots in Lagos, alleging that “a lot of corrupt practices are going on there”.
Olufemi Adewole, the Executive Secretary of the Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, however, denied the allegations.
Adewole said: “We received the information of depots selling above specified government price just like every other person.
“But our investigations have, so far, not confirmed the allegations.
“DAPPMA member depots are aligned with the Federal Government to ensure that Nigerians buy petrol with ease nationwide at government specified rate.”