Petroleum marketers demand compensation as PMS sells for N450 per litre in Imo
By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
Filling Stations operating in Owerri, on Wednesday shut down their businesses to protest the refusal of payment of compensation to one of their members whose filling station was damaged by former Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration.
Gossipspice gathered in Owerri, that their action was based on a court judgment they obtained that the state government should pay compensation to their member. But the state government said it has appealed against the judgement.
However, Gossipspice went round the Owerri metropolis, and it was observed that a litre of fuel sold between N400 to N450.
The areas visited include: Port Harcourt and Aba road, which saw all the filling stations closed down. The situation was not different along Okigwe, Amakohia, Akwakuma as well as Onitsha road.
Also, affected by the strike of the petroleum marketers, saw all the filling stations completely shut down along the Egbu and Nekede-Ihiagwa roads.
Some commercial bus drivers who spoke to Gossipspice at about 6:50 am, said they bought a litre of fuel between N450 and N500 a litre.
According to a bus driver, plying Aba road who gave his name, Mr Saby Iwu, said: “This morning, I came out to drop one of the passengers travelling to Lagos, I discovered that filling stations have not opened yet and I asked what the problem was and I was told that they have gone on strike. I pleaded and from the backyard, they sold a litre of fuel for N300 and I bought 4 litres. I will go home after I dropped the passenger. I can’t continue with this amount.”
Also, a private car owner, said his name, Mr Uche Onwubiko, who narrated his experience to Gossipspice said: “I bought a litre of fuel N450 this morning, along Orji road. It is painful. A friend of mine bought at Onitsha road, from a black market shop at the rate of N500.
However, in places like Obinze, Irete, Orogwe, Aboh, Ezinihitte, Ahiazu, Agbala at the time of filing this report, a litre of fuel sold as low as between N200 and N300 compared to the N500 per litre sold in the main town of Owerri.
Reacting, the Imo State Government through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, said: “Their grouse is an alleged refusal of the state government to obey a court judgment on payment of compensation to their member whose filling station at Orlu was demolished by the Rochas Okorocha’s administration.”
He continued: “Imo State Government is aware of the plan by petroleum marketers in the state to embark upon a strike action from tomorrow, Tuesday, August 24, 2021.
“Their grouse is an alleged refusal of the state government to obey a court judgment on payment of compensation to their member whose filling station at Orlu was demolished by the Rochas Okorocha’s administration.
“However, the Government has reasons to believe that there is more to the planned Strike than meets the eye. First, the judgment itself was hidden from the current administration and no effort was made to dialogue with the government by the aggrieved member. Despite this, when the government found about the judgment, it responded appropriately as a law-abiding government by proceeding on appeal.
“Secondly and curiously, the petroleum marketers have made desperate efforts to hoodwink tanker drivers to stop the supply of petroleum products to the state by midnight of Monday, August 23rd, obviously using the influence of the affected member who was once a tanker driver himself.
“Why should the marketers succumb to involving the Petroleum and Natural Gas Association of Nigeria (PENGASAN), in a local affair that has nothing to do with that association? This suggests that there are other motives behind the planned strike. The petroleum marketers must therefore be mindful of being dragged into a strike they do not know its full motive.
“Since the matter is still in court, it amounts to self-help for petroleum marketers to embark on a strike which in the eyes of the law is illegal.
“Having submitted himself to the rule of law, the affected person ought to wait for the ruling of the higher court before proceeding on any further action. It, therefore, goes without saying that the planned strike action by petroleum marketers in Imo state is prejudicial to the extant case and therefore subjudice.”
“Government is not unmindful of the consequential effects of such an illegal action on the state economy and innocent residents of the state.
While the Government has the responsibility to ensure the maintenance of law and order, it regrets to note that the planned strike in this volatile security situation in the country is ill-advised, more so when it is glaring that it is an affront to the law. However, as a law-abiding government, this administration is assuring the petroleum marketers that it will abide by any decision of the highest court when the matter is fully determined.
“Since the affected owner of the demolished filling station is yet to exhaust all legal options available and since there exists a tendency of appeal on the matter, any strike in whatever form and by whosoever named remains illegal and will be treated as such. Finally, Government hereby advises those planning the strike to respect the law in the interest of peace and economic well being of the people,” Government said.