• Monday, April 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Court declares petroleum downstream deregulation illegal

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 The deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by the Federal Government, Tuesday, suffered a major setback as a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja declared the policy illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

A Lagos-based lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, had dragged the Federal Government to court over the policy, a newswire reports.

The minister of petroleum resources and the attorney general of the federation were the defendants in the suit.

In declaring the policy unconstitutional, the judge dismissed the Federal Government’s objection challenging the locus standi of the plaintiff to sustain the case.

Presiding judge, Justice Adamu Bello, while ruling on the case, Tuesday, ordered the Federal Government to stop the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry forthwith and immediately fix prices for petroleum products as required by the Petroleum Act and the Price Control Act.

Justice Bello also held that the policy of the Federal Government to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by not fixing the prices at which petroleum products might be sold in Nigeria was unlawful.

 that the government should control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.

According to Justice Bello, the policy of government to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by not fixing the prices at which petroleum products should be sold in Nigeria was unlawful, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever being in vicious violation of the mandatory provision of section 6 of the Petroleum Act, cap P.10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“That the policy decision of the defendants to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by not fixing the prices at which petroleum products may be sold in Nigeria is unlawful, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever being in flagrant violation of the mandatory provision of section 4 of the Price Control Act, cap P28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”, he declared.

The court also held that the policy had the effect of making the freedom of movement guaranteed in section 41 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 illusory for the plaintiff and the generality of Nigerians and was therefore illegal, unconscionable and unconstitutional and of no effect whatsoever.

further held that the deregulation policy was in conflict with section 16(1)(b) of the constitution of the Federal Republic