Lawmakers refute bribery demand claims by petrol owners

Lawmakers who have been visiting petrol stations, depots and LPG retail outlets across the country to enforce compliance with public safety measures, say the claim by petrol station owners that they were been asked to pay bribes due to irregular registration is untrue.

Petrol station owners had last week raised alarm that some operatives working for the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Tank Farms, Petrol, and LPG Stations have been ordering them to visit their hotel rooms to allegedly demand for bribes to avoid shutting their operations due to lack of compliance with safety standards.

Sergius Ogun, a member of the Federal Representative representing Esan North East/Esan South East constituency in reaction to BusinessDay story on the alleged demand for bribes said there was no truth to the claim calling on petrol station owners to produce evidence of such a demand.

The lawmaker said he reached out to his colleagues who deny making such demands either directly or through their team. Ogun said that the purported invitation to the hotel room was to receive documentations petrol station owners are providing in support of their claims of compliance with the law since they are based in Abuja and did not have offices in every state of the federation.

Petrol stations owners who spoke to BusinessDay had last week alleged that they were being asked to pay bribes for not meeting with safety standards on the threat of sealing their petrol stations.

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Last month, the House of Representatives set up an Ad-hoc Committee to take stock of petroleum products marketing firms and evaluate their level of compliance with the industry regulation and guidelines.

The lawmakers said they were acting on concerns across the country over unsafe practices of petroleum marketers, transporters, and safety of their operations.

The committee visited some petrol stations within Ilorin metropolis Kwara states three weeks ago, led by Ibrahim Aliyu, representing Wurno Rabah, Federal Constituency in Sokoto state. Aliyu said the visit was not meant to witch-hunt anybody but stimulate public safety compliance.

Another team of the lawmakers under the same committee, recently visited Okezie Ikpeazu, governor of Abia state on a purported oversight function.

The team led by Miriam Onuoha, representing Okigwe North federal constituency claimed that they were ascertaining whether tank farms, petrol, gas and other LPG stations in the state were sited in accordance with guidelines, regulations, and other safety measures.

Petrol station owners had expressed confusing about the development as they had hitherto known the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to carry out evaluation of their compliance with safety standards.

“Increasingly other state and federal agencies are seeking to regulate and supervise station and depot operations “which is increasing our cost of doing business especially when we receive conflicting directives from them,” said said Clement Isong, chairman of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

Ogun insisted that the DPR by virtue of section 88 and 89 of the constitution had the power to provide oversight function on any entity in the country.

“If we can summon the president while carrying out oversight function, who are petrol station owners that cannot be summoned,” Ogun said.

When reminded that this is DPR’s remit, the lawmaker said that providing on the ground assessment gives them an opportunity to receive firsthand information on the true position of things.

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