Abuja (Sundiata Post) – A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, on Sunday said the Federal Government is empowered by law to fix the prices of kerosene and other petroleum prices.
In a statement, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said the government is backed by Section 4 of the Price Control Act and section 316 of the Petroleum Industry Act to “determine and fix the prices of petroleum products Including petrol motor spirit, kerosene and cooking gas.”
He countered a claim made by the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, that the government could not intervene in the rising price of kerosene.
In Africa’s most populous nation, kerosene is a major cooking energy for Nigeria’s low-income earners and rural dwellers. The product is more expensive than even petrol, diesel and gas.
Diesel is sold at N808 per litre in Lagos, gas sells at N202 per litre. Petrol is sold at N169 but kerosene is sold at over N900 per litre in the nation’s commercial capital.
Last Monday, the minister said President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has no powers to intervene in the rising price of household kerosene. At a media briefing in Abuja to unfold the achievements of the Buhari administration in the petroleum industry since the assumption of office in 2015, Sylva pointed out that the price of kerosene had already been deregulated and could no longer be controlled by the government.
“Kerosene, which is the fuel for the average household, is already a deregulated product. It is not necessarily within the purview of the government but a now a commercial decision. Companies will import and sell kerosene at a commercial rate. It is a deregulated product,” the minister said.
But Falana accused the Buhari government of illegally pushing out the deregulation of kerosene on Nigerians.
“With respect, the purported deregulation of the product was illegally pushed out by the Buhari administration,” he stated.
“It is common knowledge that the Federal Government, through the NNPC is the sole importer of fuel into the country, claiming to be subsidising the product. So how can the Federal Government turn around to allow private companies or the so-called market forces to fix the price of the same product?
“In July 2020, Chief Sylva said that an alternative source of fuel, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) would cost between N95 to N97 per litre, to make fuel more affordable in the country. About a year later, it was disclosed by the Minister that as part of efforts to ensure that the autogas conversion of vehicles yielded the desired results, the Federal Government had set aside N250 billion for willing investors in autogas assembly plants in the country. The Federal Government should tell Nigerians why the migration from PMS to CNG has been abandoned.”
The senior lawyer urged President Buhari as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, “to call Chief Sylva to order for treating the valid and subsisting judgments of the Federal High Court and the Supreme Court with contempt.”
“Otherwise, we shall not hesitate to commence contempt proceedings against the public officers in charge of the petroleum industry.”