Nigeria seems to incessantly be going through cycles of fuel scarcity, the reasons why we are having these constant fuel shortages is not the point of this article, but how Nigerians can protect their rights in these circumstances.
The law of economics is that when there is low supply and high demand, the price will increase. Now while that is true for general products, that should not be the case for petroleum. Under Nigerian law, the government (through the NNPC) is currently charged with setting the amount individuals pay to purchase petroleum products, and therefore the price should always be constant, irrespective of the laws of demand and supply.
However, unfortunately what we see in practice is that once there is a scarcity in petroleum products, some people try to take advantage of this to increase prices. They do this through one of the following ways
- increasing the price per litre
- requesting an additional surcharge when purchasing the product (e.g. an extra N200 for each individual who buys petrol at the pump).
- Insisting that individuals buy one of their products as they purchase petrol e.g. engine oil
The law is pretty settled on this, and any petrol station outlet who engages in these acts is breaking the law and subject to the ultimate sanction of having their station shut down. The NNPC has an enforcement team which goes around inspecting the stations to ensure these acts are not being carried out. However, they can’t be everywhere and it is the task of every Nigerian to ensure that the outlets are not breaking the law (and taking advantage of them) during fuel scarcity.
So the question is, what do you do? Do you refuse to accede to this demands (let’s call a spade a spade – it’s exploitation) and thereby risk not being able to buy your petrol? Well, we are at LawPàdí are not going to advise you to risk not getting petrol that is essential to your daily livelihood. If you find yourself in one of these situations, you should gather the following information:
1. Name and Location of the Petrol Station
2. Name of attendant (or description – male/female, complexion, facial marks etc.)
3. What time it occurred
4. Details of what was demanded from you e.g. increase in pump price, surcharge on purchase, demand to purchase additional product etc.
5. Any pictures/videos or evidence of the practice (not necessary, but helpful, please do not endanger yourself or property to take pictures or videos)
With this information, you can make a complaint directly to the NNPC. The numbers you may call to make a complaint on are: 08057008021, 08052195801 and 08100941174.
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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.