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Buhari, Reps talk tough, say suppliers of substandard fuel would be held accountable

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President Muhammadu Buhari and the House of Representatives talked tough yesterday over the bad fuel imported in to the country, saying those behind it must be held accountable.

In fact, the House at its plenary, said heads must roll, if the situation was to be averted in future.

The President and lawmakers’ positions came on a day marketers distanced themselves from  controversies around who brought the bad fuel into the country.

It will be recalled that the Nigeria National Petroleum Company, NNPA, Limited had late Wednesday night, listed four marketers as those responsible for bringing in the bad fuel.

In a statement by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, Buhari said the protection of consumer interests was the priority of his administration. He said his government was ready to take necessary measures to protect consumers from hazardous products, loss or injuries from the consumption of substandard goods.

The president directed that in line with the law, service providers must make full disclosure of relevant information with respect to the consumption of their products. He said dissatisfied consumers were entitled to proper redress of their complaints.

On its part, the House in a motion by Chief Whip, Mohammed Monguno at plenary on Thursday, directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Limited to immediately suspend the four firms said to be involved in purchasing and supply of the product.

It also asked NNPC to submit the deeds of purchase to parliament for scrutiny, while also mandating all relevant committees including Petroleum (Downstream), Petroleum (Upstream), to look into details of purchases of petroleum products made from January till date to ascertain whether they met international standards.

The joint committee will also investigate the roles played by Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Navy and all other regulatory agencies in the petroleum sector in the supply of the contaminated product.

Presenting the motion, Monguno bemoaned adulteration of petroleum products, saying it is an illegal and clandestine practice which pose severe risks to public health and automobile engines among others.

He said: “Recently, the country witnessed a sudden scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, with attendant long queues at petrol stations, especially in the Federal Capital Territory and Lagos State.

“According to reports, the scarcity was a result of adulterated petrol in circulation, upon discovery of which the Federal Government ordered stoppage of further distribution of the product.

“Poor quality product was noticed about a week ago when many car engines of motorists were reportedly damaged and consumers allegedly started arresting and suing retail outlet owners for selling products which damaged their vehicles.

“The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, which replaced the defunct Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, is directly responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance in the nation’s downstream sector, including technical, operational and commercial activities.

“Adulteration of petroleum products is an illegal and clandestine practice which poses severe risks to public health and automobile engine, among others.

“The sudden scarcity of premium motor spirit across the country has not only caused untold hardship to Nigerians, but also affected the country’s economy with sudden increase in transportation cost which in tum affects the price of goods and services and the loss of man-hours as people are held up in fuel queues.

“The seeming lack of a credible monitoring and surveillance system to ensure adequate fuel quality at the consumer end and prevent undue stress to the citizenry and the country as a whole is unfortunate.’’

Contributing to the debate, lawmakers took turns to condemn the development and demanded a comprehensive probe and imposition of sanctions against any party found culpable.

Speaking on the motion, Nalaraba Mohammed (APC, Nassarawa), said the situation was unacceptable.

“It is unacceptable. Someone somewhere will go and bring adulterated fuel, it is unacceptable. A question must be asked and someone must answer. I want investigation to be carried out immediately. We cannot fold our arms and watch billions of naira wasted. I support this motion whole-heartedly.”

In his contribution, Haruna Mshelia (APC, Borno) said: “The person that brought in this adulterated petrol should repair the damaged cars and machines this has caused.

Also speaking, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), wondered how Nigerians would have survived, assuming the product was aviation fuel, adding that aircraft would have suddenly been dropping off the skies.

“When it comes to putting the lives of Nigerians in danger, a lot of people are getting away with this. This must stop and this is the right time. I want to draw your attention to the fact that assuming, which is not impossible, the so-called alleged contaminated fuel happened to be aviation fuel, aircraft would have been falling from the skies. The originating country too should be held responsible for this heinous act because they only attribute something to this country when things are bad. There was a time they brought toxic fuel to this country which caused Nigerians so much damage.’’

In his remarks, Magaji Da-u said: “This is very disheartening and saddening. It means the system is completely compromised. There are several checks to be carried out. One is at importation level.

‘’The second one is when it comes to Nigeria, you will also test. All the landing companies have independent laboratories to ascertain quality. It is obvious this was not done.’’

In her contribution, Oluga Taiwo said it was a shame that Nigeria, as an oil producing nation, could not refine its crude.

“If you know the source of this adulterated fuel, what are we waiting for? It is a shame that we are producing and another person is refining for us. If it is food, it is poisonous. They should come to plenary and explain to Nigerians. I don’t want a committee thing,” he said.

On his part, Deputy Minority Leader of the House, Oby Okechukwu, said there is need for an investigation.

“There is need to investigate the release and sale of adulterated PMS in petrol stations across Nigeria. Unfortunately, what we have seen is that this parliament has been hired by NNPC to work for it. We are investigating the refineries that are not working. We are investigating from 30 million litres consumption to 100 million litres. Mr Speaker, we have worked on PIB which you supported heavily.

‘’I do not know what to say about an agency of government, a revenue generation agency of government that has not been into production for the past few years, as our refineries have not been working. Mr Speaker what is it?

“Now, like Isiaka said, to bring in aviation fuel that means that you want to weaponize it against Nigerians. What if this had been taken into an aircraft and it burst into flames? What we are doing is a situation where we are heavily tolerant.

‘’They have refrained from under-recovering, they are now saying it is N3 trillion that we have to spend every year. What are they contributing to the economy? And we are retaining overhead costs, recurrent costs for the refineries for the past six years.

“Mr Speaker, each time and every day, we would be looking for what are the challenges of security. The consequential effects of the refineries working and producing is the employment of young people. And the simple thing as per due diligence to import petroleum products has become a war that we have to win.

“Engr Magaji talked about the protocols, about seven protocols. It is much more than that. Any production of any refinery must have to interrogate the kind of quality of what you are putting out.’’

Adopting the motion, the House gave the committees four weeks within which to conclude the investigation and report back for further legislative action.

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Nigerian students’ association threatens to shut down all international airports over prolonged ASUU’s strike

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ASUU to begin fresh strike

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Southwest Zone D has threatened to shut down all international airports over the failure of the Nigerian government to address the lingering strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities and other staff unions.

Coordinator of the NANS Zone D, Adegboye Olatunji in a statement said the students had waited long enough for the government to resolve the crisis.

He added that students would take the bull by the horns and no longer keep quiet, pointing out that President Muhammadu Buhari’s position on the crisis could ruin their future.

The statement read, “It is timely and urgent to address this press conference today with a view to putting an end to the long lingering strike action of ASUU and ASUP (Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics), a total reformation of the educational sector.

“The Leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students Southwest (Zone D) in conjunction with the National Association of University Students Southwest (NAUS) has taken it upon herself to categorically stand against the dilapidated state of the educational sector in Nigeria.

“We are at a time when Nigerian Students have lost hope and do not know what’s next on the radar. ASUU strike has been on for over 3 months without forgetting the ASUP warning strike of 2 weeks.

“We have also waited for long to see if the Federal Government will dance to the music of Nigerian students who have been clamouring for an end to the ASUU strike but the reverse is the case. We’ve had several press conferences, granted several interviews, and held several meetings to plead with both ASUU and Federal Government. Our future is been jeopardised. We’re in a country where age is a key factor in labour market.

“Aviation unions gave a 2-day warning strike on shut down of flight operations. A meeting was scheduled by the Federal Government and strike action was called off in less than 24hours because the first-class citizens would be affected. But it is so obvious that none of them is affected by ASUU/ASUP Strike. They have their children all over the world enjoying a smooth educational system.

“On Monday, May 16th, 2022, the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris was arrested over alleged money laundering and diversion of public funds of at least N80 Billion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Where is the integrity of the government preaching against corruption? How much of the public funds would have settled the educational sector and put an end to the yearly ASUU/ASUP Strike action.

“For so long, ASUU/ASUP strike has been ongoing and the Federal Government has not been showing concern through the Minister of Education.

“We are ready to take the bull by the horns as Nigerian students will not keep silent and watch our future being ruined by the prolonged ASUU/ASUP Strike.

“According to the Commandment of Solidarity, we’re on the last C of ALUTA which is Confrontation. This is the time to call on all Nigerian students across all zones to come out in mass to take over all international airports in the country. Nigerian students are tired of the long-overdue strike action.

“The leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students Southwest (Zone D) in conjunction with the National Association of University Students (NAUS) hereby declares a massive protest to shut down all international airports in Nigeria. We must state categorically to the Federal Government that all activities shall be shut down by over twenty-two million five hundred and twenty-seven (22,575,000) Nigerian students across Southwest Nigeria until ASUU / ASUP Strike is called off totally.”

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VIDEO: Tension as Okada riders, policemen clash in Lagos

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There is tension in the Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos over an attempt by policemen to enforce the state government ban on the operation of commercial motorcycle operators also known as Okada riders.

The state government had on Wednesday issued a total ban on the activities of the Okada riders in six local government areas of the state over the killing of a sound engineer, David Imoh, at Lekki.

Policemen from Onireke Police Station, Ojo, had impounded some commercial motorcycles for operating along the Mile 2 – Badagry expressway, an action which the riders resisted.

The riders attempted to overrun the station and possibly set free some of their members who were arrested by the policemen.

The riders set fire in the middle of the road, while the owners of vehicles abandoned them by the side of the road due to the chaos.

The crisis led to a stampede as pedestrians fled for fear of being caught up in the crossfire.

Moreso, the incident created heavy vehicular movement on both sides of the road.

While the policemen fired several shots into the air to disperse the commercial motorcycle operators, the riders themselves pelted the officers with stones, daring the policemen to come after them.

A yet to be ascertained number of persons sustained different wounds as they tried to run away from the trouble zone.

Presently, a combined team of anti-riot policemen and some soldiers have been deployed to return normalcy to the area.

WATCH THE VIDEO OF THE CLASH BELOW:

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Army Major commits suicide 3 days to court-martial verdict

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A former Battalion Commanding Officer who led the fight against Boko Haram in the North East, Major UJ Undianyede, is said to have committed suicide.

According to sources, he killed himself less than 72 hours to the verdict of a court-martial trying him for alleged military infractions during the war.

The sources, who confirmed the incident last night, said the Major killed himself on Monday on the premises of the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) in Kaduna, with his service pistol.

“I think he killed himself because of the judgment of the court-martial which has been fixed for tomorrow (today, May 19). We only learnt about his death today (Wednesday).

“In prosecuting the war, the Major with some of his colleagues allegedly committed some infractions for which he was being tried at the 1 Division in Kaduna,” one of the sources said.

The offences listed against the deceased officer by the court martial in the 1 Division included misappropriation of funds, abandonment of military post, insubordination, and desertion, among others.

Another source attributed the Major’s death to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), noting that he had been in the North East for some time battling Boko Haram terrorists.

The Major, a Course 55 Regular Officer and other members of his class, were said to be due for promotion to the rank Lieutenant Colonel this September.

When contacted, the spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said he had not been briefed.

However, the Public Relations Officer of the NDA, Major Bashir Jajira, dismissed the report, saying no officer of the academy was involved in suicide.

“No personnel of the academy was involved in suicide as reported, and in fact, our cadets are presently in Kachia for combat shooting training, they are not in the academy. So, no such training took place.”

In the same vein, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 1 Division Headquarters, Kaduna, Major Musa Yahaya stated that he was not aware of any court-martial taking place in the division as earlier reported.

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