A group of civil society organizations and social media activists and commercial drivers in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, have said they are ready to embark on mass protest to demonstrate their displeasure over the lingering fuel scarcity in the state.
Specifically the civil society groups said they have collected signatures of Nigerians for ‘Occupy Nigeria’ protest in Port-Harcourt on Thursday, against the unending scarcity of petroleum products and current economic hardship in the country.
One of the facilitators of the proposed protest, Livingstone Wechie, said the action is due to hold on Thursday in Port-Harcourt.
He said the action seeks to draw the attention of the Federal Government on the need to take urgent steps to end the current economic hardship facing Nigerians due to the lingering fuel scarcity across the country, especially Rivers, Lagos states, and Abuja.
Wechie emphasised that the protest in Port-Harcourt also seeks to demand that the Federal Government end the era of blame game and evolve measures that will restore confidence in the citizens.
However, both private and public filling station owners have also called on the Rivers State Government, to extend the mandate of the task force to include the monitoring of the activities of depot owners, and not only filling stations.
In an interview with the dealer of Sky Mint Energy Limited filling station along Iwofe-Wimpey Junction, Mr Onyema Otata, said government should enforce the compliance of filling stations with the regulated pump price of petrol.
He said that this can only be possible if government ensures that private depot owners sell the product to filling stations at government-regulated pump price.
Otata further said that the inability of the task force to force compliance has made depot owners to consistently sell the product to willing filling station owners at very high prices.
According to him, “since we buy at very high prices at private depots, we are also forced to sell to our customers at prices which allow for marginal profit,” admitting that “on Friday, we sold at N300 per litre but today (Saturday), we are selling at N200.”
At Propel Filling Station along Ada-George Road, Miss Juliet Njiedika told The Tide that, “as at yesterday (Friday), we sold N300, but today (Saturday), we are selling N250.”
She admitted that the excruciating hardship was hitting hash blow on both owners of filling stations, motorists and other customers resident in the state.
A motorist, Peter Israel, regretted that the task force set up by the state government has achieved little result as private filling stations sell the product at very high prices, while some major filling stations, which have stock of petrol either concentrate on selling to black market operators or completely hoard to product in order to hike the price when customers become desperate to get it at all cost.
Israel said most private filling stations sell the product at between N250 and N300 per litre, complaining that in spite of announcements by the state Ministry of Environment that many filling stations have received the product for sale, only very infinitesimal number across the state capital are actually open to the public, and are selling at official pump price.
He said that the situation has made queues at the few major filling stations longer than necessary, and customers staying, sometimes, two to three days at filling stations before they are able to buy petrol at government-approved pump price.
Another motorist, Ifeanyi Onyechukwu, said “right now, there is no fuel anywhere, and worst still, if you see to buy, it is very expensive”, adding that high cost of procuring petrol has had ripple effect on transport fares, which he said has skyrocketed by over 300 per cent.
Efforts to talk with the NNPC mega station management proved abortive as few officials seen at filling stations in Port Harcourt declined comments, and rather referred our correspondents to NNPC headquarters for answers to the festering enigma.
The situation which became more serious over the weekend caused most motorists operating in the city to park their auto mobiles as there was no petrol to buy.
Few stations with the product who were besieged by long queues sold at the rate of N200.00 per litre while at the back market, a litre sold for N300 and above.
Black marketers s also sold 10 litres for between N2,500 and N3,000 and 20 litres at between N5, 500 and N7,000.
Transporters increased their charges by 100 per cent.
From Rumuokoro to Mile 3 Park that normally cost N100 went up to N200, from Mile 1 Flyover to Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) that normally went for N50 by taxi went up to N100.
Investigation further revealed that Iloabuchi to UST backgate is now N100 from the former N50, while Port Harcourt to Ahoada is now N600 from the previous N500.
Similarly, Port Harcourt to Andoni is now N900 from N600, Port Harcourt to Omoku N800 from N600, while Port Harcourt to Bori is now N500 from N400, while the fare from Port Harcourt to Okrika which was previously N250, is now N300.
Infact, passengers said, every stop by taxi and bus within the Port Harcourt metropolis is now N100 instead of the usual N50.
Chris Oluoh & Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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