The Federal Government has no powers to deregulate the downstream petroleum sector and must always fix the price of petroleum products sold across Nigeria, a Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled.

Justice M. Bello on Tuesday gave the ruling in the case of Bamidele Aturu versus Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Attorney General of the Federation.

The judge granted the six reliefs sought by Mr Aturu including the sixth which is “AN ORDER directing the Defendants to fix and publish regularly prices of petroleum products forthwith.”

A statement emailed to Channels Television by Mr Aturu said “the court declared the policy of deregulation as unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.”

The statement reads, “The Court agreed with all our arguments and granted all our reliefs in the following specific terms:

“1. A DECLARATION that the policy decision of the Defendants to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by not fixing the prices at which petroleum products may be sold in Nigeria is unlawful, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever being in vicious violation of the mandatory provision of section 6 of the Petroleum Act, cap P.10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“2. A DECLARATION that the policy decision of the Defendants to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by not fixing the prices at which petroleum products may be sold in Nigeria is unlawful, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever being in flagrant violation of the mandatory provision of section 4 of the Price Control Act, cap P28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“3. A DECLARATION that the policy decision of the Defendants to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by not fixing the prices at which petroleum products may be sold in Nigeria is unlawful, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever being in conflict with Section 16(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which provides that the Government shall control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.

“4. A DECLARATION that that the policy decision of the Defendants to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by not fixing the prices at which petroleum products may be sold in Nigeria has the effect of making the freedom of movement guaranteed in section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 illusory for the Plaintiff and the generality of Nigerians and is therefore illegal, unconscionable and unconstitutional and of no effect whatsoever.

“5. AN ORDER restraining the Defendants their agents, privies, collaborators and whosoever and howsoever from deregulating the downstream sector of the petroleum industry or from failing to fix the prices of petroleum products as mandatorily required by the Petroleum Act and the Price Control Act.

“6. AN ORDER directing the Defendants to fix and publish regularly prices of petroleum products forthwith.”