- Femi Falana said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited is just like other oil companies and has no right to fix fuel prices.
- The NNPCL had confirmed an adjustment in fuel prices ranging from N488 to N570 per liter for all fuel stations.
- In a later interview, the NNPCL GCEO, Mele Kyari said market forces determined the adjusted fuel pump prices.
Human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, has said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited is the same as Total, Shell, and ExxonMobil and therefore has no right to fix fuel pump prices.
He said this during an interview via Channels Television on Friday night. He pointed out the fact that during his inaugural speech on May 29, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said he will run an administration anchored on the rule of law. He said:
- “This implies that all actions of the government and its agencies will have to comply with the law. The NNPC has metamorphosed into a limited liability company, it is now NNPC Limited.
- “To that extent, the NNPCL like Total, ExxonMobil, and Shell operating in the oil industry cannot announce increases in the prices of petroleum products. That duty is vested in the government.”
He cited the judgment of the Abuja Federal High Court in the case of Bamidele Aturu vs the Minister of Petroleum Resources, where it was stated that nobody has a right in Nigeria to fix the prices of petroleum products other than the government. He said:
- “So where has the NNPCL got the power to fix the price of petrol? Clarification is important. Visible market forces cannot under the Nigerian constitution and the Petroleum Industry Act, fix the prices of petroleum products.”
According to him, the president is running the country and ministers are yet to be appointed, so only the president can decide on price change for now. He stated clearly that there is no provision in Nigerian law for market forces to determine the prices of any product in the country.
Recall that TheTimes reported that the NNPCL released a statement on the adjustment in fuel pump prices ranging from N488 to N570 per liter across all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. In the statement, the NNPCL said it wished to inform its esteemed customers that it has adjusted pump prices of premium motor spirit (PMS) across retail outlets, in line with current market realities.
Reacting to the NNPC statement cited, Falana, said what the company is simply saying is that it wants to sell fuel at an international price which is being circulated over around $1 per liter, which begs the question of N540 per liter and above.
According to Falana, if according to the Central Bank of Nigeria, the country has not further devalued the Naira, the official rate is N451 to a dollar. So, if the intention is to sell at an international price, why is the fuel price not N451 per liter? He asked. He said:
- “I think the ultimatum given by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) provides the government an opportunity to go back to the drawing table. And clear some of the confusion in the air. President Tinubu said the fuel subsidy regime had been eradicated by the previous regime, and the suppliers started selling at prices that went through the roof.
- “But they were told there is an arrangement to have subsidy till the end of June 2023. Those who got fuel at the old price are now profiteering and unleashing economic pain on Nigerians, and nobody is checking them.”