Security Agencies Interrogate Top Oil Executives Regarding Adulterated Fuel - OLAMORE
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Security Agencies Interrogate Top Oil Executives Regarding Adulterated Fuel

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Acting on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari for a thorough investigation into the importation of over 100 million litres of adulterated fuel, security agencies have begun to probe all stakeholders involved in the shoddy deal.

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Top management staff of all the companies mentioned in the importation and distribution of the toxic fuel are currently being grilled by the security agencies with some of them making useful statements, a source has told LEADERSHIP Sunday.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said top executives of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, have all stated their own part of what happened with the importation of the contaminated fuel.

When the adulterated fuel was first discovered, Farouk Ahmed, the chief executive officer of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), was allegedly queried over the circulation of off-spec petroleum products but this report was later debunked.

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NMDPRA is responsible for the regulation of the midstream and downstream petroleum operations in Nigeria, including technical, operational and commercial activities.

President Buhari, who was said to have been upset at the situation, instructed Timipre Sylva, the minister of state for petroleum resources, to ask Ahmed to explain how the product came about, with immediate effect.

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Also, top management staff of the oil marketers listed in the deal such as Emadeb, Oando, Duke Oil and MRS are all part of those under investigation.

NNPC’s group managing director, Mele Kyari, blamed these companies for bringing in the adulterated fuel.

He explained that the NNPC investigation revealed the presence of methanol in four PMS cargoes imported by the following Direct-Sale-Direct-Purchase (DSDP) suppliers including: MRS: Vessel name – MT Bow Pioneer, load port: LITASCO Terminal, Antwerp-Belgium;

Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium: Vessel name: MT Tom Hilde, load port: LITASCO Terminal, Antwerp-Belgium; Oando: Vessel name: MT Elka Apollon, load port: LITASCO Terminal, Antwerp-Belgium and Duke Oil: vessel name: MT Nord Gainer, load port: LITASCO Terminal, Antwerp-Belgium.

He said cargo quality certificates issued at load port (Antwerp-Belgium) by AmSpec Belgium indicated that the gasoline complied with Nigerian specification.

Kyari added that as a standard practice for all PMS imports to Nigeria, the said cargoes were equally certified by an inspection agent appointed by the NMDPRA.

Meanwhile, the security agencies involved in the probe are already compiling the names of the culprits to forward to the presidency for action any moment from now.

The source also stated that the presidency will likely ensure that proper punishment is meted out to any persons found wanting in the importation of the adulterated fuel.

LEADERSHIP Sunday reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC and the Department of the State Services, DSS, are all empowered to investigate issues of financial fraud, economic sabotage and economic crimes of national security dimensions respectively.

Some of the spokespersons of these agencies said apart from the obvious economic fraud committed by the culprits, there is also the issue of presidential directive which much be followed to the letter

Meanwhile, motorists from different parts of the country and from all walks of life have narrated the difficulties they encountered in using the adulterated fuel.

Mrs Naomi Adesuwa lives in Asaba, Oshimili South Local government area of Delta state. As a civil servant, she was on her way to work last Monday when her Toyota Rav4 Jeep started malfunctioning.

She was surprised when the car eventually stopped moving, especially when she had just bought fuel worth N7,000. It dawned on her that she might have bought adulterated fuel which could have caused the car to malfunction.

According to her, an auto mechanic confirmed that adulterated fuel had affected the car’s mechanism and necessitated some repairs in the car.

“The mechanic started from the fuel pump to nozzle, the need to bring down the fuel tank, from there to the injector and others l cannot remember.

“At the end l ended up spending N37,000 on motor parts, N5,000 for towing van, while l paid N5,000 to the mechanic. Apart from the repairs done on the car, l was deprived of using the car that day. “Unfortunately, till today the car has not been functioning well, it has been moving at snail speed and making driving boring,” she said.

Adesuwa, a mother of two, also lamented what bad fuel has done to her car, as she had to negotiate with a tricycle rider for the next one month for her school run. Her fear is that the car may suddenly stop on the expressway which may result in an accident.

In Kaduna, several people say they have been victims of the contaminated petrol. While to some it is minor defect to the cars, for others it damaged the brain box of their vehicle.

A Kaduna resident, Reuben Buhari, said, “I bought three gallons but after driving around, the car started vibrating and eventually stopped in thick traffic. When the mechanic came, he immediately detected water from the nozzles, pump and tank. He told me that mine was the third car he was called to check with the same problem.

“In this era of fuel scarcity, be very careful with the fuel you buy from those boys selling by the roadside. There is water in some of those four-litre gallons you see them with. On top, you would see fuel, at the bottom would be water. Since most of those gallons aren’t transparent, you won’t notice what is at the bottom,” he advised.

Another resident, Jacob Onjewu Dickson, said, “I bought fuel and all of a sudden my car started smoking and the smoke was very thick and black. It was followed by jerking and the car stopped on the road. When I got a mechanic, it was discovered that I bought adulterated fuel which has affected the brain box of the vehicle and, painfully, I had to purchase a new brain box that cost me N75,000, along with new plugs as well,” he said.

LEADERSHIP Sunday’s findings reveal that the situation has gone beyond the imported adulterated fuel, as the boys selling fuel in jerrycans now mix it with water, thereby causing additional harm to buyers’ vehicles.

Meanwhile, the long queues in Kaduna are yet to disappear, with commercial motorists now taking advantage of the fuel scarcity to charge exorbitant fares.

The issue of imported adulterated fuel in circulation has been a source of concern to motorists and all other consumers of the commodity in the last one week.

Many who bought the fuel without knowing what its impacts would be on their vehicles are now counting their losses.

A commercial bus driver, Mr Adekola Salami, who conveys goods and passengers to Abuja from Ado Ekiti, said he was not aware of the development until last Tuesday.

Salami who spoke to our correspondent in Ado Ekiti said he had approached one the fuel stations in Abuja to fill up his vehicle’s tank in preparation for a journey back to Ado Ekiti with no premonition that a terrible fate lay ahead of him.

He said, ” The journey that began at about 8am saw him and the passengers in the bus stopping few minutes after leaving the motor park as a result of the faults developed by the vehicle.

The driver said, thankfully, they were still within Abuja which gave him the opportunity to call his mechanic to fix the problem.

“After fixing the vehicle the mechanic said it was fuel pump that was causing the problem, but the vehicle could still take us to Ado Ekiti.

“We continued the journey but the vehicle broke down again in Kabba, Kogi State, where we were for several hours fixing it, without knowing that bad fuel was the cause of the problem.”

He said they eventually got to Ado Ekiti at about 10pm.

The driver said he invited his mechanic the following day after his vehicle could not start only to be told that the vehicle got damaged after using much of the toxic fuel that had already turned to watery substance.

A taxi driver in Port Harcourt, Aniekan Uduak, said the adulterated premium motor spirit (PMS) he bought in one of the filing stations in the metropolis damaged his vehicle’s fuel pump.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday in Port Harcourt, Uduak stated that he only noticed the damage caused to his vehicle about 12 hours after purchasing the fuel.

He however, said the management of the petrol station were kind enough to compensate him for the damages by replacing the fuel pump.

The taxi driver said: “As I bought the fuel, about six litres, I did not notice anything. It was the following day I realised that the sound of the engine had changed.

“When I managed to take the vehicle to my mechanic, he confirmed that it was bad fuel that I bought and it had damaged my fuel pump.

“I immediately reported to the filing station when I bought the fuel the previous day and the owner gave me money to buy a new fuel pump.”

A commercial driver, Nnani Okeke yesterday narrated how adulterated fuel knocked the engine of his vehicle.

Okeke said he went to a filling station to buy a fuel but was surprised when his car stopped working immediately.

Okeke said when he went to the station to report the development, the attendant told him to go and fix his car because they (too filling station) had bought the fuel from somewhere.

“Shortly after I bought the fuel my car refused to move again. I want the federal government to investigate this menace. I was highly embarrassed. They refused to compensate me,” he stated.

In Ibadan, Oyo State, a commercial driver, Musiliu Ajani, lamented the adverse effect of adulterated petroleum on his vehicle, saying that it has a cost him a fortune.

The driver who plies Ibadan-Ogbomoso- Ilorin Road, disclosed that as a result, the engine of the vehicle, a Toyota Sienna model , was completely damaged.

He explained that he had purchased the petrol immediately he left Ibadan, and the vehicle had developed a fault before he got to Oyo.

According to him, on getting to Oyo, it was discovered that the engine had packed up.

He said apart from losing the fare the passengers were to pay, it took several days before he could move the car to mechanic’s workshop in Ibadan.

It was a similar experience in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital. A motorist yesterday expressed concern over adulterated petrol and the damage done to various vehicles.

Christian Orji said that such bad product could be procured from major marketers, black marketers and even NNPC mega station.

Orji complained that the bad fuel has totally grounded his vehicles.

He told LEADERSHIP Sunday that many stations within the Abakaliki metropolis and other stations in communities are fond of selling bad fuel while regulating agencies look away. According to him, the authorities know marketers who sell adulterated products.

He said: “It was a bitter experience. The moment I bought the product and headed for my home, I observed malfunction in the car.

“It was clear to me that I have just procured an adulterated product. I spent weeks at the mechanic village before the car could be fixed.”

Even though it is yet to be established by any authority in the state that petrol laced with methanol has been distributed in Cross River State, a motorist residing in Calabar, the state capital, Charles Essien, claims he had to get another engine for his Toyota Camry car that was damaged due to the use of bad petroleum product .

He said he bought the petrol from one of the fuel stations around Mobile by MCC junction in the city of Calabar on that day and it turned out to be bad.

Essien said, “My vehicle automatically got bad and I was told by the mechanic who handled the vehicle that it was bad petrol that caused the damage.”

Another motorist, Silas Agim, said he escaped getting his vehicle damaged when he noticed a change in the sound of his vehicle and quickly went to another petrol station to buy more fuel to dilute the bad one.

“It’s a vehicle I had driven in the last six years. I noticed that the car sounded differently from the way it used to sound that fateful morning after I fueled the car in one of the petrol stations around Mobile by MCC junction, Calabar.

Agim stated that the next day he read in the dailies that petroleum products laced with methanol was in circulation.

He stated that five minutes after he filled the tank of his vehicle with the petrol he bought from one of the petrol stations around Mobile by MCC junction, the rate of acceleration and sound of his vehicle automatically changed and the vehicle began to behave as if it were a rickety one.

In Benue State, auto mechanics are making brisk business from victims of adulterated fuel.

One of the victims who identified himself as Gabriel Mnengeaan said he was not aware of the adulterated fuel, until his engine developed a fault and the mechanic drew his attention.

He said: “After, purchasing the fuel from a petrol station from one of the major marketers in Màkurdi, the state capital, in the evening, I drove to Announce twice with passengers after which I drove home and the following morning I was unable to start the vehicle till I drew the attention of a mechanic who told me, after checking the vehicle, that the fuel I bought was the adulterated one and it had condemned some of the things in the engine, so he need to do total overhaul of the engine and the money for this is N50,000.

“I grew annoyed and called another mechanic and he said the same thing. They even told me that the earlier they washed out the adulterated fuel the better, so I was devastated but what could I do. I went and borrowed money from a local bank (called Bam) and gave him to commence work.

“I am really devastated and disappointed in the fraudulent activities of NNPC staff as well as the federal government who are bent on subjecting average Nigerians to this kind of untold hardship.”

He described the apology by the NNPC Ltd as lip-service that is not even needed.

“Look at me looking for money to put just food on the table for my family, an now looking for N50,000 to pay for washing and replacing some of the damaged things in my engine. Ordinarily I would have parked this vehicle but sometimes, especially after working hours I use it for commercial purposes to get what my family will eat the following day, but honestly this Nigeria is not worth calling a country, because we the masses are suffering.”

In Niger State, there is no reported incident of adulterated fuel but a driver who plies Minna to Abuja every day, Sumaila Mohammed, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that he nearly bought one while on transit.

He said those who were victims told him that they bought the fuel in Abuja about the same he bought his in a nearby filling station where the adulterated fuel was reported to have been discharged.

The commercial driver confirmed that from his interactions so far, the fuel was never discharged in any filling station in Niger State before the problem was discovered.

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