Human rights lawyer and activist, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, has declared that the new fuel price regime from the Federal Government is illegal and lacks statutory power because the body, empowered to take such decision is yet to be constituted by the government.
According to him, the decision by the government is “immoral and insensitivity of the effect of fuel price increase on the people of Nigeria.” He therefore urged the government to revert to the old pump price.
In a statement made available to Vanguard in Lagos, Falana argued that the increment was contrary to the interest and yearning of Nigerians for the further reduction of the fuel price.
He noted that the present administration acted contrary to its promises not to remove subsidy in order to inflict undue pains on Nigerians. Beside, he said, the decision was wrong since the sole body statutorily responsible for fixing fuel price is not yet constituted, adding, the “unilateral decision of the Executive Secretary of the body to fix the pump price at N145 per litre is ultra vires and illegal in every material particular.”
He argued that since the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) empowered to recommend the price of petroleum products has not been reconstituted, such decision was wrong. He added that: “In view of the illegality, insensitivity and immorality of the price increase the federal government should cancel it, revert to the status quo and consult widely with all relevant stakeholders in the society.”
Falana wondered why the increment when after the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR) recently invited fresh bids for the setting up modular refineries, which resulted to licensing of 22 modular refineries with combined capacities to refine 1.429 million barrels of crude oil per day. If the policy is genuinely pursued the construction of the refineries ought to be completed within the next 9-12 months, he argued.
“If such refineries are established in the country the importation of fuel and the fraud associated with it will stop. In the interim, instead of importing oil from Europe and the United States the NNPC should refine crude oil for domestic consumption in neighbouring countries which have functional refineries. After all, Nigeria refines 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day in Cote d’ivoire which is not an oil producing nation,” he said.
He further argued that “If subsidy had been removed over a month ago and the country has been saving $2 billion (from fuel importation and subsidy removal) while the refineries are now working at full capacity Dr. Kachukwu should tell Nigerians the justification for the new removal of fuel subsidy announced by him yesterday.
“The cost elements that make up the N145 are provocative. If the total landing cost of a litre and other charges are fixed at N138 what is the basis of fixing the price at N145? For goodness sake, why should motorists be made to pay NPA/NIMASA charges, within and without storage/ bridging charges etc?”
He therefore submitted that the decision will have virile effect on the people and the economic. He noted that increasing the price without any public debate or consultation with relevant stakeholders whatsoever the federal government took the Nigerian people by surprise. (Vanguard)