By Oscarline Onuemenyi
ABUJA -THE Independent PetroleumÂ Marketers of Nigeria have file a petition before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against some officials of the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company for alleged fraud and sharp practices in the distribution of petroleum products.
In the petition addressed to the EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri, a copy of which was made available to Vanguard on Friday, the marketers accused the Port Harcourt Area Manager of the PPMC, Mr. Nnaike Offordile, and two others of engaging in fraudulent activities, which has caused hardship to economic interests of the marketers.
The petitioned, which was signed by the solicitor to the marketers, Dioka Stan and Co, charged the PPMC officials of â€œmanipulating the daily loading programme to cause scarcity and corruptly enrich themselves.â€
It further stated that the PPMC officials committed economic sabotage as they refused to sell the petroleum products meant for marketers but would rather divert it to the border areas where they are smuggled out of the country.
It noted that, â€œThe nation loses heavily as these diverted products do not get to the customers, thereby resulting in perennial scarcity of petroleum products in many parts of the South East and South South. With its attendant high cost and sales above the pump price being the order of the day in these zones.â€
According to the petitioners, these officials of the PPMC have made so much money through such activities.
In an interview with the National Public Relations Officer of IPMAN, Chief Ezekwesili Maduagwuna, he said, â€œAvailable data has shown that between January 2 and March 25, 2009, this cabal made about N175 million by illegally loading more than 700 trucks of various products of 30 litres each at an average of N250, 000 per truck.â€
He added that side from the abuse of the loading programme and batch allocation, the officials had also abused the â€œbridgingâ€ process which allows marketers to load products from a different loading depot from the one assigned to them as a result of their inability to load from their designated depots.
â€œThe said individuals also abuse this process by preparing the batch list for the bridging at the PPMC Port Harcourt depot rather than allow the relevant depot managers to send in their bridging list.
â€œThis creates room for fraud to be perpetuated indefinitely as all manners of people are brought in to load and move them to the border regions where they products are sold at higher profits,â€ Maduagwuna said.
He added that members are now forced to source for the products from privately_owned depots, which sell at higher rates.
The marketers further lamented that the shoddy treatment of their members by the group in the Port Harcourt was endangering their businesses and livelihood.
Maduagwuna said, â€œMany of our members can no longer afford to take care of their families or pay their staff, and many of our members have borrowed heavily from banks who are not giving them a momentsâ€™ rest.â€
The IPMAN official, therefore, urged the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to set up a committee to investigate the activities of the PPMC officials, even as he noted that if such a system were allowed to continue, it may harm the planned deregulation of the downstream sector by the Federal government.