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Femi Falana describes DSS ultimatum to NNPC on fuel scarcity as ’empty threat’

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Human rights lawyer Femi Falana has faulted the 48-hour ultimatum by the Department of State Services (DSS) to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and oil marketers to end the lingering fuel scarcity in the country over security threats.

DSS Spokesman, Peter Afunanya, on Thursday, stated that failure to make Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) available to Nigerians would prompt the services to activate its operations across the country.

He said the NNPC agreed that there is enough product that will serve Nigerians during and after the Yuletide season.

He said the petrol scarcity affects the country’s security.

The stakeholders at the meeting include the NNPC, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN).

Others are the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum Tanker Driver (PTD).

In the last few weeks, the country has been battling petrol scarcity, spreading to several parts of the country.

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While the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) said the scarcity was caused by the shortage of petrol at NNPC depots, the state-owned oil firm had said ongoing road projects in Lagos affected distribution.

However, Falana who spoke on Channels Television on Friday described the ultimatum as an empty threat.

He stressed that the NNPC had the responsibility of supplying petroleum products to all parts of Nigeria, adding that if the organisation failed to carry out its duty, the Federal Government was obliged to call the officials to order and possibly relieve them of their responsibilities.

“(As) you know, every year, at the end of the year – once it is Christmas – there must be artificial supply of fuel,” he said. “The ultimatum will not work because there is no sanction for impunity in Nigeria.

“The State Security Service (SSS) does not operate under the law in Nigeria. It does its own thing. There is nobody to call the agency to order. They will know that it’s just an empty threat because nobody is going to be arrested and prosecuted to teach a lesson.

“The other day, toxic fuel was brought to Nigeria. The government promised, ‘We’re going to deal with them, it will never happen again.’ Was anybody arrested? Was anybody prosecuted? It’s the same thing because they know the people behind it. It’s like oil theft. They know them.”

Falana acknowledged the security concerns of the secret service, attributing the threat to economic sabotage. According to him, the continued presence of long queues at filling stations could lead to “serious security problems.”

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