Policemen staged a surprise attack on black market vendors
Officers of the Nigerian police, Tuesday, swooped on black market petrol sellers in Abuja metropolis.
The police officers stormed Aminu Kano Crescent in Wuse 2 area of the metropolis and arrested the black market vendors situated at various filing stations in the area.
Many of the black market operators were seized at the waist belts and shoved into police vans.
The scarcity of petrol in Abuja over the past months has made petrol venders, in jerry cans, a regular view on the streets of the Nigerian capital. Many petrol users, not wanting to spend hours in petrol stations, patronise the hawkers.
On Christmas day, a relative slow day for commuters and even for the black market vendors, police officers clamped down on the vendors in commando style.
A witness told PREMIUM TIMES that over a dozen of the vendors were seized by the police men amidst their furious pleas.
Onlookers, especially owners of vehicles on the queue of a filling station, MRS, praised the policemen and jeered at the black market vendors.
Some vehicle owners claimed that the vendors give them a stiff competition at the pump. The vendors usually buy above official price, causing the retailers to hoard fuel in order to sell to black market vendors who in turn sell the fuel at exorbitant prices to car owners.
However, the cops left the petrol stations, collaborators of the black market vendors, to go free.
Car owners, who queued for petrol, said petrol attendants not only prefer to sell to black market operators, but also demand bribe from car owners.
Ibrahim Hassan, who waited for two hours to get fuel at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC station told PREMIUM TIMES that “some staff of NNPC Gwarimpa collected bribe at the gate to allow people shunt the queue.”
Grappling with fuel scarcity in Abuja
Since June, Nigerians across the federation have suffered from scarcity of petrol.
Queues sometimes stretch to about three kilometres from a filling station. Many times, people have had to leave these queues without fuel, after waiting for several hours, because the petrol stations often claim they have less than enough to go round everyone on the queue.
Nigerian authorities and oil marketers have traded blames over the scarcity. The government has claimed that some petrol marketers are deliberately instigating the scarcity, a claim the marketers have denied.
The marketers blamed the scarcity on inadequate supply of fuel, with many refusing to import the product until they are paid subsidies owed.
The marketers said the NNPC is not supplying enough fuel to meet the needs of Nigerians.
The Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, had blamed Nigerians for the scarcity. She said Nigerians should suffer the scarcity with smiles because they caused the scarcity when they asked for transparency in the management of the country’s oil resources.
“We cannot eat our cakes and have it. We cannot keep calling out for transparency and accountability and pointing at corruption if we are not prepared to bear some of the hardship that will obviously come when you are trying to clean up a sector,” the minister said.
Both Mrs. Alison-Madueke and President Goodluck Jonathan promised Nigerians a yuletide season without fuel scarcity.