Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has said the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) does not have the power to fix the price of petrol in the country.
Falana was reacting to the price hike of petrol on Tuesday by the national oil company, which saw the second impromptu price review of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in under two months.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said it is illegal and contentious for the NNPCL to adjust the pump price of petrol from N500 to N617 per litre.
Falana cited a Federal High Court judgement which held that by the combined effect of the Petroleum Act, Price Control Act and the Constitution the Federal Government “must always fix the price of petroleum products sold across Nigeria.”
According to him, the Federal Government was dissatisfied with the judgement of the court and filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
Falana stated that even though the appeal has not been determined, the NNPCL has usurped the power of the Federal Government to determine and fix the prices of petroleum products in the country.
He said: “Even though the appeal has not been determined, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited has usurped the power of the Federal Government to determine and fix the prices of petroleum products in the country.
“It is undoubtedly clear that the action of the NNPCL is illegal and contemptuous since the judgment of the Federal High Court on the subject matter has not been set aside by a higher court.
“It ought to be pointed out that the NNPCL is no longer an agency of the Federal Government but a limited liability company which is regulated by the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority in charge of the petroleum industry.
“The action of the NNPCL has confirmed that the company has continued to exercise monopoly in the importation and distribution of petrol in the country contrary to the letter and spirit of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021.
Having liberalised the petroleum sector the NNPCL lacks the power to fix the prices of petroleum products in any part of Nigeria. It is high time that the NNPCL was restrained from further fixing the prices of petroleum products in the country.”