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Fuel Crisis: IPMAN accuses NMDPRA of fraud, threatens to shut 30,000 filling stations over N200bn debt

*The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria declares its members across the country ‘are collectively prepared’ to withdraw their services, close every single retail outlet, and suspend lifting of products forthwith till their ‘demands are fully met’, accusing ‘The Authority’ of deliberately frustrating oil dealers over payment of their N200 billion bridging claims

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As the current fuel crisis deepens with its attendant socio-economic dislocations for millions of consumers across the country, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has threatened to shut down the 30,000 filling stations being operated by its members, if the Federal Government fails to pay N200 billion bridging claims owed the oil dealers.

ConsumerConnect reports the fuel marketers, who stated this in a communique issued Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in Abuja, FCT, pointedly accused the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), otherwise called “The Authority”, a Federal Government agency of fraud, and “deliberate” refusal to clear the debt over time.

Farouk Ahmed, Chief Executive of NMDPRA

According to the Association in the statement by Yahaya Alhassan, Chairman of IPMAN Depot Chairmen Forum, the debt which the government owes the oil marketers has continued to accrue since September 2022.

Alhassan noted the debt accrued from non-payment of marketers’ bridging claims, as IPMAN controls over 30,000 filling stations across the country.

Bridging claims are payments made by the government to oil marketers for the transportation of petroleum products loaded from depots to various states across the country.

In terms of the immediate effect such a proposal to shut their fuel stations, the Chairman said the consequences of the failure by NMDPRA to pay the N200 billion “will be terrible, as every marketer’s outlet across Nigeria, from the North to the South, and from the East to the West, will be shut down.”

Alhassan further explained: “As IPMAN, we have taken every step in the past to salvage this unfortunate and looming situation, which we know will not augur well for Nigerians, but we are presently left with no option than to go all out in the next few days to address this ugly trend in our own way, which will portend great hardship and danger for Nigerians.”

The IPMAN Chief also recalled that at a previous stakeholders’ meeting held February 20 this year, with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Malam Nuhu Ribadu, the Chief Executive of NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, Minister Lokpobiri had mandated the The Authority to clear the N200 billion debt within 40 days.

IMPAN said: “However, … we have crossed the 40 day time-lapse given to the NMDPRA to clear the debt. And it is shameful to state that only the paltry sum of N13bn has been paid, thus going the whole length to ignore our plight without remorse and without recourse to the Minister’s directive.

“Before now, we had taken the honourable path to continually seek an explanation from the NMDPRA on why it has blatantly refused to offset the remaining debt, but we have ceaselessly met brick walls.”

Bankruptcy, inability to meet financial obligations destabilising IPMAN, says Alhassan

Lamenting the members’ situation, Alhassan declared that IPMAN was extremely distressed and depressed by the laid-back attitude of the leadership of NMDPRA towards the survival of its members’ businesses, arising from alleged NMDPRA’s deliberate delay and refusal to offset the debt of over N200 billion.

He also stated: “This has consequently led to the deaths of many of our members and the unfortunate collapse of their businesses.

“It is also disheartening to note that some of our members have completely shut down their businesses and retrenched their employees as we are no longer able to pay salaries.”

The Chairman of IPMAN Depot Chairmen Forum noted: “As businessmen and women, our members acquired bank loans to keep their fuel retail outlets running on a daily basis across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, in order to serve the teeming population of Nigerians.

“However, it is demoralising to know that many of our members have gone bankrupt and have become financially insolvent as a result of their inability to meet their financial obligations to their banks, arising wholly from their inability to get their monies from the NMDPRA.”

Consequently, Alhassan disclosed the banks have taken over the business premises of several members of the Association.

“NMDPRA has illegally taken our monies, and this is the highest level of fraud.

“Sequel to this, we are appealing to Mr President to please intervene in this quagmire that we have been subjected to by the NMDPRA,” he alleged.

Oil marketers ready to shut retail outlets, if….

The Chairman said: “We repeat, if our demands are not met within the shortest period of time, we have already put our members on standby across the nation.

“As law-abiding citizens, we are collectively prepared to withdraw our services, close every single outlet, and suspend lifting of products forthwith till our demands are fully met.”

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