*20 persons arrested, handed over to NSCDC
Combined team of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and security agents on Sunday uncovered illegal reservoirs of fuel in Abuja.
Speaking at the site of one of the mini depot, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru, said it was saddening to make such discoveries in the city centre when less than 500 meters away, motorists were on endless queues.
Hundreds of jerry cans, 200-litre drums and 500 litre tanks were uncovered in the sting operation by the team in the city centre.
According to Baru, the perpetrators have caused untold pain and hardship on Nigerians during a crucial season as Christmas.
“In the war room (where crucial issues are discussed during fuel crises), we asked ourselves why the situation of fuel queues persists.
“We got an intelligence report of these mini depots and as you can see, these golf cars that are supposed to have 40 litres have tanks that can take 200 litres of petrol.
“This other one is a mini depot. Although, some of the products are diesel, the DPR says it is unauthorised. We have over 50 days supply of diesel and so there is no reason to hoard the product.’’
The Abuja Zonal Controller of DPR, Mr Mohammed Abba, told newsmen “we have arrested 20 people in connection with those who sell in jerry cans in Zone One alone and their facilities.
“We are handing them over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), because the DPR has no capabilities to prosecute. We will test for forensic analysis and we will pursue the case to court’’.
Mr Aminu Abdullahi, Assistant Commandant-General Operations, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps while receiving the perpetrators confirmed receiving the 20 persons.
“We have received the suspects and DPR will be called in for forensic analysis to test what was handed over,’’ he said.
Motorists suffered harsh conditions on fuel queues on Christmas Day. In the black market which still persisted openly by the roads, 10 litres of petrol was sold for N4,000
Some of the filling stations visited were the NIPCO along Jabi and airport road, Oando in Zone 1, Texaco, Oando, MRS on the Airport Road and NNPC Mega stations along Zone 1 and on the Kubwa Expressway.
There was presence of security agents in almost all stations visited, the queues were rowdy with angry commuters screaming themselves hoarse all in a bid to get into the station and be served. Some of the motorists also complained that the filling station had adjusted their pumps and were busy cheating the consumers.