Petroleum experts have warned Nigerians to be weary of where to buy Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol as over 100million litres have been imported into Nigeria and a larger percentage already discharged to various filling stations across the country.
The contaminated Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, which was imported into the country by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
Oil marketers estimated that about 100 million litres of contaminated petrol were imported into Nigeria and had been recalled by the Pipelines Product Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC.
The recall caused severe queues in Abuja, Lagos, Niger, Nasarawa and many other states, as the few petrol outlets that dispensed products were crowded by motorists and other PMS users.
Many other filling stations were shutdown on Tuesday for lack of products to sell, while black marketers greeted various major roads in Abuja, selling products to interested consumers.
It was also gathered that though efforts were being made to address the concerns, the queues and shortage of petrol might drag till this weekend.
The NMDPRA said in a statement it issued in Abuja that limited quantity of PMS with methanol quantities above Nigeria’s specification was discovered in the supply chain.
It said methanol was a regular additive in petrol and usually blended in an acceptable quantity, adding that contaminated product had been isolated.
However, An energy law specialist, Prof. Dayo Ayoade, told our correspondent that aside from the huge adverse environmental impact of such contaminated fuel, the product had already knocked the engines of some motorists.
He said, “It is a big issue because the contaminated fuel has to be taken out of the system. It has to be extracted from the filling stations and depots and disposed off. This is because since it is contaminated, you can’t sell it to another person.
“It has to be disposed in an environment that is sustainable, and in a proper manner. Now, do we have the equipment to properly take care of this contaminated fuel? That is a big issue.
“Secondly, there is the issue of who is liable for the cost of replacement of the engines that have knocked? Because contaminated fuels have negative impact on engines and I heard that the engines of some customers have knocked.”
But when asked if the NNPC would compensate motorists who had already used the contaminated petrol, the spokesperson for oil firm, Garba-Deen Muhammad, declined comments.
Meanwhile, some senior advocates and rights activists have called on the NNPC – which is the sole importer of petrol – to compensate motorists who bought adulterated fuel.
A senior advocate, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, said the government was wrong to have given the NNPC the monopoly of petrol importation.
Adegboruwa said the oil firm cannot escape liability.
He added, “If it is confirmed that there’s negligence on the part of the importer of the petroleum products, surely all those who bought the fuel are entitled to pursue their remedies against the agency especially where it affects vehicles among others.
“They would be liable and this is because they have the monopoly of importing petroleum products to the country. So the citizens are limited in terms of their choice and so in that regard they have the responsibility of ensuring that they import what is suitable for use by the consumer.
“The NNPC can’t escape being held liable and not just the NNPC, I think the government itself and the reason is because there’s no reason to monopolise the importation of petroleum products. Also, the reason we are experiencing this is because the government has failed to repair our refineries.”
Femi Falana (SAN), said the NNPC must compensate those who bought the contaminated petrol even as he advised victims to lodge a complaint with the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
He said, “The NNPC has to compensate consumers. They (consumers) should lodge a complaint with the consumer protection council. Victims can institute an action against the NNPC. The NNPC also has the right to sue those that sold the fuel to them.”
Another senior advocate, Norrison Quakers, said it was irresponsible for the NNPC to have imported contaminated fuel, adding that they could be dragged to court for doing so.
Quakers further argued that the marketers who bought the petrol from the NNPC ought to be compensated as well.
The senior advocate added, “If I was an independent marketer and I bought the product from NNPC for the supply and suddenly it turned out to be adulterated fuel , the NNPC is duty bound to reimburse and compensate me for my loss. I could start first with an administrative process to demand for the reimbursement and when they refuse to do that I can now institute an action in that regard because I bought it from them.
“Secondly, a car owner who goes to a filling station to buy petrol and his car develops a fault because some cars are very sensitive, can sue the supplier as well as the NNPC. It’s like a chain; you identify the primary source and the secondary. Honestly, it is highly irresponsible for the NNPC to have imported adulterated fuel. It means standards have really declined. How do you determine the fuel that is being sold, is it not at the point of purchase?
“How do you end up buying adulterated fuel of that magnitude? Those are questions begging for answers. The president must intervene, heads must roll. It is quite painful in the age of the way we do things in this country.”
Also, the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center, Ibrahim Rafsanjani, said this was scandalous to Nigeria, calling on the anti-corruption agencies in the country to investigate the matter.
He said, “I think this is an indictment on the NNPC, the sole importer of petroleum in Nigeria. They must be made to account for how it happened. Taxpayers’ money is used to import this petrol. This also goes to show the poor regulatory and supervision mechanism.”