Black marketers have taken over the sale of fuel to motorists in many states across the country.
Our reporters who went round different cities observed that in parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos, Ibadan, Oyo State and Kano, the black marketers are making brisk business following the fuel scarcity that has hit the nation.
This is even as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has warned marketers and depot owners against illegal adjustment of petrol price and hoarding of products to create artificial scarcity.
Investigations by LEADERSHIP in Abuja yesterday revealed that motorists now buy 10 litres of fuel at the cost of about N4,500.00 from the itinerant black marketers.
One of the motorists, Elizabeth, who spoke to our reporter said she has no option than to buy the product at that rate because she has been waiting for over three hours.
"I have to buy it because I cannot continue to wait on this fuel queue throughout the whole day. I have been here for about three hours and I do not see any hope of purchasing the fuel at the filling station."
Although government has categorically stated that it has no intention to increase the price of fuel, but panic buying has continued in some filling stations, with long queues.
Our correspondent also gathered that because of the rush to buy the product from the few available filling stations, some marketers have increased the price to as much as N170.00 or N180, 00 per litre, while in some stations, the price is still at the cost of N162.00 per litre.
In Ibadan, Oyo State Oyo, the state government has called on the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to sanction any filling station found to be hoarding fuel.
The call came as a result of the hardship the people of the state are going through as a result of the scarcity of fuel with motorists spending hours in long queues.
The state commissioner for Public Works and Transport, Prof Dauda Kehinde Ogundoyin, said the scarcity of fuel that started on Sunday was artificial as there was no reason for most of the marketers not to sell to the people.
Most fuel stations in Ibadan were not selling fuel to motorists while those selling experienced long queues which also contributed to traffic gridlock in some parts of the metropolis.
He said, "As government, we are doing all we can to make life easy for the people of Oyo State and this is reflected in the number of infrastructural projects around the state, for some people to be creating artificial scarcity of fuel for pecuniary reasons if wrong and inhuman.
"The Department of Petroleum Resources should as a matter of urgency swing into action and arrest the situation, they have the work of monitoring cut out for them and this is the moment to bring those marketers sabotaging the government by hoarding products to book."
In Kano, the state government has vowed to deal ruthlessly with people creating artificial scarcity of fuel in the state.
Chairman of the state anti-graft agency Barr Muhyi Magaji Rimin Gado who on the instructions of the state governor Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje went round some of the filling stations to see things for himself, said the state government will not sit and watch as some unpatriotic elements make life difficult for the people.
He said his commission will not hesitate to deal with any person or group of persons that are found to be neck deep in hoarding the product.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has warned marketers and depot owners against illegal adjustment of petrol price
The Corporation dismissed speculations of imminent increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) in the country, ruling out any increment in the ex-depot price of petrol in March, 2021.
Group general manager, group public affairs division, Dr Kennie Obateru, stated that the Corporation was not contemplating any raise in the price of petrol in March in order not to jeopardise ongoing engagements with organised labour and other stakeholders on an acceptable framework that will not expose the ordinary Nigerian to any hardship.
NNPC also cautioned petroleum products marketers not to engage in arbitrary price increase or hoarding of petrol in order not to create artificial scarcity and unnecessary hardship for Nigerians.
It stated that it has enough stock of petrol to keep the nation well supplied for over 40 days and urged motorists to avoid panic buying.
It further called on relevant regulatory authorities to step up monitoring of the activities of marketers with a view to sanctioning those involved in products hoarding or arbitrary increase of pump price.