Oil and Gas marketers in Aba comprising of officials of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) and the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA) have pleaded with Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu to save their businesses.
The marketers said that the combined activities of illegal oil bunkers and producers of different adulterated petroleum products have made it very difficult for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Mega Depot at Okpokoroala, Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area to have supply of petroleum products.
The marketers made the plea at the weekend when joint Taskforce (JTF) of NUPENG, IPMAN, PTD and NOGASA intercepted two petroleum tankers jointly loaded with 90,000 litres of diesel at Tonimas Junction off the Ariaria axis of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Highway.
The JTF operatives seized the two trucks each carrying 45,000 litres of refined diesel while they were conveying the diesel to an undisclosed location for distribution and marketing.
News Echo gathered that the occupants of the two tankers abandoned the trucks and escaped arrest, when they noticed the presence of the JTF close to the Popular Tonimas Junction, along the Enugu-Port Harcourt Highway.
A source within the JTF told News Echo that the tankers according to the tip-off they got were more than two, but they were only able to get two. He said that the movement of the illegal bunkers from Rivers State into Abia State has become so urgent following the war declared against them by Governor Nyesom Wike.
Chief Nwandu Anyawu, Chairman, Oil and Gas Suppliers (OGS) branch of NUPENG, Aba unit, said that they suspect that the bunkers got the products around the boundary of Rivers State and Abia State and were trying to enter into Aba to distribute them before they were caught.
“We’ve tried our best. We’re doing our job to get these guys. Today, they abandoned their products and ran away. We are calling on the Governor to kindly assist us to fight and win this battle with these people because their activities are affecting everybody.
“We can’t load in the Depot again. Their activities in the pipeline are killing business. These people sell cheaper than the NNPC price in the Depot. They break pipelines and take refined products to sell illegally.”
The chairman of the joint task force, Mr Godfrey Chukwunyere said that the activities of illegal oil bunkers are taking the majority of their members out of business, as they cannot get products anymore from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Depot in Aba.
“We plead with the government of Abia State to come to our aid. We are trying our best to checkmate the activities of these illegal bunkers.
“We need the support of the government. These people are criminals and they’re sabotaging the Nigerian economy and taking genuine oil marketers out of business.
“These vandals have filled the market with adulterated products that are harmful to our people. We formed this task force to checkmate the nefarious activities of illegal bunkers and make sure that none of our marketers is involved in this.
“We also want to ensure that any of our members found to be collaborating with these vandals are delisted and reported to the approval authorities.
“We’re happy that so far none of our members is involved in this. These people are criminals and must be stopped. We cannot fold our hands to allow them to take us out of business.
“All we want is for products to be at the Aba Depot of the NNPC so that we can do our business and pay necessary taxes as genuine businessmen.”
Hon. Chidiadi Achibiri, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the OGS branch of NUPENG, Aba unit said that the issue on the ground is beyond just marketing of illegally gotten petroleum products, but also marketing of adulterated products that have been causing problems for Nigerians.
“This thing is increasing at an alarming rate. We decided to come together to say no to this. We got information about their activities and we took action to get them.
“Normally, the law says that when we get this type of product, we should take them to the appropriate authorities that will take it up from there with investigations.
“They have fake documents forged to enable them to move these products as if they were gotten from the Depot.
“They’re bringing these products from Rivers State but we have our people here checking them because the Depot here in Aba is no longer functioning.”
News Echo gathered that the Osisioma NNPC Depot has not been having supply for a while now following the constant breaking of pipelines by the illegal oil bunkers who have made it a routine business for themselves to constantly break the pipeline.