Fuel Scarcity Hits Akwa Ibom Over Alleged Extortion, Impounding Of Products

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By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo

Hardship bites harder in Akwa Ibom State as fuel scarcity hit the state following allegations of extortion and impounding of products by Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association (NOGASA), forcing marketers to close stations.

According to the state branch of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMAN), the decision to suspend operations was taken after a stakeholders meeting following a series of “refractions into our businesses caused by the activities of Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association (NOGASA) where members’ products were impounded on the road and extorted.”

It directed members to close stations/outlets from the public effective Monday April 22, 2024 adding that any non compliance would attract a fine of N300,000 which it said would be enforced.

Checks in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital revealed that many of the service stations did not open since Sunday forcing a few that defied the directive to sell their products at N800 litre as against the current price of N700 per litre.

The check further showed that though the price of petrol is said to have been slashed in some parts of the country, the looming strike has worsened the current situation in Akwa Ibom State.

The effect however, is the hike in transport fares. A drop by bus or Keke that was formerly between N100 and N150 depending on a distance, now charge N200, N250 and N300.

Those, especially students and low income earners who cannot afford to pay the high fare trek distance to their destinations.

Reacting to the development, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association Of Nigeria (PETROAN) however urged the public to disregard the threat while its members should go about their businesses.

Udeme Esset, chairman of the group in Akwa Ibom state in a statement made available to newsmen in Uyo, said the association would release their enforcement team from today (Monday) “to monitor the operations of the retail outlets and report to the (Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority)” adding that the “necessary security agencies for action should there be any encumbrance from any unauthorised person or group.’’

It urged the state government to take necessary actions against those stopping petrol tankers on the road therefore causing unnecessary traffic and endangering the residents in an event of a possible accident or explosion from any of the inflammable petroleum tankers impounded.

Reacting to the scenerio, Governor Umo Eno said he has directed the Commissioner for Internal Security to liaise with the Co-ordinator of Ibom Community Watch, a government owned security outfit and other security outfits to mount surveillance at the boarders to checkmate the unscrupulous elements from carrying out their evil intentions.

According to the governor there is fake news in circulation from an unknown group saying they want to withdraw their service of fuel delivery in Akwa Ibom state, we have contacted the original and authentic group who have since countered that announcement.

“In the wake of the prevailing hardship in the country, if any group believes it can constitute themselves into a nuisance and create additional hardship for the people of Akwa Ibom, we will confront that group,’’ he said.

The governor who spoke during a special service and fundraising for church building project in Onna local government council noted that Nigerians have been severely impoverished by the present economic realities and warned groups not to worsen the situation.

Until the threat by IPMAN, nothing was heard of PETROAN in the state which many believe is a faction within the marketers which is sympathetic to the state government.

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