The Alliance for Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), a coalition of Civil Society Organisations led by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has described the recent hike in Petroleum Motor Spirit by the federal government as illegal and unconstitutional.
In a statement on Sunday, Falana, said on behalf of ASCAB that the increase should be annulled, suggesting Nigerians are being pushed to the extreme.
He said, “The Federal Government has taken yet another illegal decision. Nigerians are not expected to obey illegal orders.”
Falana cited the Supreme Court judgment that vested the right to increasd fuel price in the hands of the Minister of Petroleum, a position presently being held by Buhari.
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He said contrary to the provisions in the constitution, the Federal Government had been using the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to fix the prices of petroleum products, adding that following the recent challenge of the usurpation of the powers of the Minister of Petroleum Resources to fix the pump price by ASCAB, the Federal Government decided to transfer the power to the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC).
He said the PPMC announced a new Ex-depot price of N151.56 for PMS last week.
In justifying the illegal and insensitive increase in the pump price of fuel the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, was quoted to have said that the government was no longer in the business of fixing prices for petroleum products, “we have stepped back. Our focus now is on protecting the interest of the consumers and making sure that marketers are not.”
The group said the decision of the Federal Government to abdicate its responsibility to fix the price of fuel is the height of official impunity, which should not be tolerated in any democratic society.
ASCAB said “Indeed, it is a reckless violation of section 6 (1) of the Petroleum Act which provides that “The Minister may by order published in the Federal Gazette fix the prices at which petroleum products or any particular class or classes thereof may be sold in Nigeria or in any particular part or parts thereof.”
ASCAB said since the judgments and orders of the Federal High Court are binding on the Federal Government as well as all authorities and persons in Nigeria pursuant to section 287 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 the decision of the PPMC to increase the price of petrol is contemptuous, illegal, null and void.
The group said the Federal Government should cancel the illegal fuel hike and call the Management of the PPMC to order for usurping the power which is exclusively vested in the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
ASCAB called on President Buhari to exercise his statutory power as the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources to protect the interests of the Nigerian people by fixing “the prices at which petroleum products or any particular class or classes thereof may be sold in Nigeria or in any particular part or parts thereof.”