Lagos lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has described the increase in the pump price of petrol from N86.50 to N145.00 as illegal and contemptuous.
“In view of the illegality, insensitivity and immorality of the price increase, the Federal Government should cancel it, revert to the status quo and consult widely with all relevant stakeholders in the society,” he advised.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday and titled, “The illegality, immorality and insensitivity of fuel price increase ý”, the lawyer justified his view that the increase was illegal.
Falana cited the case of Bamidele Aturu versus Attorney-General of the Federation (unreported suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/591/2009) where the Federal High Court declared illegal and unconstitutional the policy decision of the Federal Government to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, contrary to the combined effect of the provisions of the Price Control Act and the Petroleum Act.
He lamented that in total defiance of the said order of the federal high court, the Federal Government has deregulated the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
Although the Minister of State, Dr. Ibeh Kachukwu, while justifying the new policy regime, claimed that “PPPRA has informed me that it will be announcing a new price band effective today, 11th May, 2016 and that the new price for PMS will not be above N145 per litre.” Since the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), which is statutorily empowered to recommend the price of petroleum products, has not been reconstituted the unilateral decision of the Executive Secretary of the body to fix the pump price at N145 per litre is ultra vires and illegal in every material particular”.
Falana recalled that barely a month ago, Dr. Kachikwu had announced that fuel subsidy had been removed through his ingenuity and that while celebrating the “success” recorded by him in the management of the petroleum industry, he disclosed that “Nigeria was saving $1 billion in subsidy removal and $1 billion in fuel importation”. He also stated that “for the first time, our refineries are ready to work now that crude has been pumped from Brass to Port Harcourt.