The Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is aware and concerned about the hike in the price of gas and is promising action to ameliorate the situation.
He said this while addressing State House correspondents after a meeting with the President in his office where he presented CEOs of two new agencies: the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NURC) and the Nigerian Downstream and Midstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) at the statehouse.
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently meeting with the CEOs of two new agencies: the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NURC), Farouk Ahmed and the Nigerian Downstream and Midstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Gbenga Komolafe at the statehouse.
They were led into the meeting with the President by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.
Addressing journalists after the meeting, Sylva said the President is aware and concerned about the hike in the price of gas and is promising action to ameliorate the situation.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed June 25 for the arraignment of owners of two supermarkets and two pharmacies charged for hiking prices of key hygiene products such as hand sanitizers and face masks.
The companies were dragged to court by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC) for allegedly taking undue advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to inflate prices of key hygiene products contrary to Section 108(1) of FCCP Act 2018.
However, when the matter was called, the prosecution counsel, Babatunde Irukere, told the court that the matter was for arraignment and that they were ready for the matter as scheduled.
But Counsel to the first and second defendants (H-Medics and Sandra Ejekwe), Abubakar Mohammed, announced that the second defendant could not appear in court as she was not served with the court notice.
In a similar suit involving Bakan Gizo Pharmacy and Store, Ray Opia and Luter Irene, the defense counsel, Festus Okpe, informed the court that the second defendant, who has been in Lagos since January was restricted from appearing in court due to the ban on interstate travel.
Other defendants in the suit are Prince Ebeano Super Market and David Chukwuma who sent an electronic communication explaining their reasons for being absent in court.
In his explanation, Mr Chukwuma blamed his inability to appear in court on the ban on interstate movement by the Federal Government due to the COVID-19.
The presiding judge, Justice Nkonye Maha, had earlier raised the issue of jurisdiction, stressing that the matter ought to have been taken to the tribunal.
The judge, however, settled down to hear the matter after the issue was cleared.
After due consideration, the judge adjourned the matter till June 25.
She, however, ordered that all parties to the matter be served with notices to ensure they are all in court on the next adjourned date.
Some of the charges are: “That you, H-Medix Pharmacy &Sons Ltd, Sandra Ejekwu(f) and John Oluwagbemiga (m) at various times between the 28th day of February 2020 and the 6th day of March 2020, at H-Medix Pharmacy & Sores Ltd, 43 Ademola Adetokumbo crescent, Wuse 11, Abuja and other retail trading outlets of H-Medix Pharmacy and stores Ltd, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, did engage in making false, misleading, deceptive representation in relation to the price of sanitizers, hand-wash liquids and disinfectants of various existing brands on display at your retail outlets and thereby committed an offence contrary to Sector 125(1) (a) of the federal competition and consumer protection Act, 2018 and punishable under Section 155 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018.
“That you, Prince Eleanor Supermarket Ltd and David Chukwuma Ojei (m) at various times between the 28th day of February 2020 and the 6th day of March 2020, at Prince Eleanor Supermarket Ltd, Plot 551, Abdusalam Abubakar Way, Gaduwa, Lokogoma Junction, Abuja and other retail trading outlets of Prince Eleanor Supermarket Ltd, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire, combine, agree and arrange to unreasonably enhance the price of sanitizers, hand wash liquids and disinfectants of various existing brands and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 108(1) (b) of the federal competition and consumer protection Act, 2018 and punishable under Section 108(4) of the federal competition and consumer protection Act, 2018.”
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa broke off a foreign tour Sunday, saying he wanted his country “calm, stable and working again” as criticism grew over a brutal crackdown in response to protests.
Mnangagwa appeared to take a more conciliatory approach than his spokesman George Charamba, who said the crackdown was “just a foretaste of things to come”, as allegations mount up of shootings, beatings and abductions of opposition figures, activists and ordinary people.
The security forces’ operation has underlined fears of a return to the violent repression of Robert Mugabe, who was ousted from power by the military 14 months ago.
At least 12 people were killed and 78 treated for gunshot injuries over the last week, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, which recorded more than 240 incidents of assault and torture.
The UN has criticised the government reaction to the protests, which were triggered by a sharp hike in fuel prices.
Mnangagwa, who was seeking much-needed foreign investment on the tour, announced his return on Twitter, scrapping plans to attend the Davos summit of world leaders this week.
“In light of the economic situation, I will be returning home after a highly productive week of bilateral trade and investment meetings,” he said.
“The first priority is to get Zimbabwe calm, stable and working again.”
He was in Kazakhstan on Sunday after travelling to Russia last Monday and then heading to Belarus and Azerbaijan.
Violent demonstrations erupted across Zimbabwe on January 14 after Mnangagwa announced petrol prices would more than double in a country that suffers daily shortages of banknotes, fuel, food and medicine.
He flew to Russia soon after making that announcement in a televised address to the nation.
Since last Monday, about 700 people have been arrested, the internet has been temporarily shut down twice, and social media remain largely blocked.
The United Nations human rights office on Friday urged Harare to “stop the crackdown” and voiced alarm over the security forces’ “excessive use of force” which included reports of them using live ammunition.
It called on Zimbabwe’s government “to find ways of engaging with the population about their legitimate grievances”.
The army and police held a joint press conference late Saturday to deny any misconduct, saying some assailants raiding homes were wearing official uniforms to pose as security personnel.
Mnangagwa, 76, had pledged a fresh start for the country when he came to power in November 2017 after Mugabe was toppled, ending 37 years in office that were marked by authoritarian rule and economic collapse.
But Zimbabweans have seen little evidence of the promised economic revival or increased political freedoms.
Fresh start derailed
Charamba, who was also Mugabe’s spokesman, added “the state must deal with” the MDC opposition party and trade unions, which he said had “unleashed” the violence.
Charamba accused MDC leader Nelson Chamisa of seeking to win power “on the blood of the Zimbabwean people” by trying to overturn Mnangagwa’s July election victory.
“The MDC and its affiliate organisations will be held fully accountable for the violence and the looting,” Charamba, who is travelling with Mnangagwa, told the Sunday News.
Chamisa tweeted on Friday that his party was “committed to peace in solving the challenges that triggered the turmoil”.
“Our country is going through one of its worst moments. My thoughts are with the victims of violence,” he added.
South Africa, where hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans have fled to seek work over the last 20 years, said Sunday that it was working to assist its neighbour, without giving details.
“If the situation is not attended to, the current economic challenges can derail the political and economic progress the country has made since the election of the new president,” South African foreign minister Lindiwe Sisulu said.
Thousands of Bulgarians demonstrated across the country on Sunday against high fuel prices, blocking traffic in around 20 cities and on key highways to Greece and Turkey.
Protesters clashed with police in Burgas, where traffic was backed up around 10 kilometres (six miles) at several entry points to the Black Sea town, public radio BNR reported.
In the capital, Sofia around 1,000 demonstrators rallied outside the government offices shouting “Rubbish” and “Resign”.
“How can they sell petrol here at the same prices as in Spain and Luxembourg when we are the poorest country in the European Union?” asked taxi driver Ivan Naydenov.
A litre of petrol or diesel fuel costs around 2.40 leva ($1.13/1.2 euros), or $5.15 per gallon, after rising five per cent from August to October, in a country where the average salary is 575 euros per month.
Motorists are also paying higher taxes on polluting vehicles and higher prices for heating fuel.
Three major motorways and many smaller roads were closed for hours, impeding traffic in the southwest towards Greece, in the south towards Turkey and in the north of the country.
The police union issued a statement Sunday in support of the protests.
Ruling party lawmaker Emil Dimitrov accused the socialist opposition of being behind the protests organised through social media.
The head of the Federation of distributors of petrol and gas, Andrei Delchev, said Sunday that prices would start to go down in line with global trends.
“Expectations that international prices will rise after the imposition of US sanctions against Iran are unjustified,” he said.
The conservative government of Boyko Borisov says its fuel taxes are the lowest in the EU.
Protesters say the Russian company Lukoil has a near monopoly as the owner of the only oil refinery in Bulgaria and is in control of fuel depots.
Pfizer has reversed price increases on some drugs following White House pressure and the US drugmaker on Wednesday pledged to decide soon whether to sell its consumer drugs business.
A day after President Donald Trump threatened action on drug prices, and said on Twitter drug companies should be “ashamed” for boosting costs, the pharmaceutical giant said it would reverse price increases that took effect July 1.
In a news release late Tuesday, Pfizer said drug prices would return to their levels of prior to July 1 and would stay at that price until the end of the year, or until Trump enacts a “blueprint” on drug prices.
“Pfizer shares the President’s concern for patients and commitment to providing affordable access to the medicines they need,” Pfizer chief Ian Read said.
A Pfizer spokeswoman said the price hikes that have now been reversed affected about 40 medicines and included a number of instances in which prices were dropped.
The changes were in the “low single digits” and in some cases would not have affected the prices consumers pay because of rebates, the spokeswoman added.
The Trump administration in May outlined a plan for lower drug prices but critics have said it does not go far enough.
Share prices of leading pharma companies rose the day the plan was announced, suggesting investors did not view the changes as a significant worry to industry profits.
Pfizer’s stock price dipped 0.4 percent to $37.26 in afternoon trading on Wednesday, while other leading drugmakers including Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb were off by similar amounts.
Pfizer also announced Wednesday it would reorganize the company into three divisions instead of two: innovative medicines, established medicines for legacy and generic products, and consumer healthcare, which will include over-the-counter drugs.
Pfizer said in October it was considering a possible sale or spin-off of the consumer healthcare business but some news reports have chronicled difficulties completing a deal.
Pfizer said it was expected to make a decision on the consumer healthcare business this year, reiterating a timeframe it had previously laid out.
Three days to the Christmas celebration, people travelling to various parts of the country from Kaduna and environs for the festivity are groaning with the increasing scarcity of petrol.
This is due the increase of transport fare by commercial drivers who ironically are also complaining of shortage of passengers as a result of the fuel scarcity and increase in fares.
They have called on the Federal government to urgently address the problem in order to reduce their sufferings.
Most filling stations across the state capital have been locked up due to the scarcity of petrol, while those that opened for business sold the product at over 80% of the normal price.
While black marketers of petrol sell a four litre gallon of petrol as high as 1,000 naira, most of the filling stations sell a litre of the product for 200 naira to struggling and impatient motorists and those buying in jerry cans.
The petrol profiteers ruled as long as men of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) were away, but when they storm the stations, they force the managers to revert to the approved pump price or in some cases seal them up.
Transport fare from Kaduna to Akwa-Ibom State and some parts of the south east that used to cost about 6,000 naira has risen to 8,000 naira. Commuters have said that the price is likely to rise if nothing is done by the relevant authorities to address the fuel scarcity.
With no end in sight to the scarcity, many families planning to travel to their villages for the Christmas celebration may have to either suspend their trip or pay through their nose due to the hike in transport fare.
With the cheering news that the Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company has resumed production after it was closed for repairs some months ago, many Nigerians are appealing to the relevant authorities to address all knotty issues that have brought this unending nightmare to the nation.
As Scarcity of petroleum persist in some part of the Country, The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) charged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, put the nation’s four refineries in a fully functional state, if fuel subsidy deduction is in the interest of the people.
NUPENG President; Comrade Igwe Achese was speaking to journalists in Calabar, Cross River state after their week long union meeting alongside the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria(PENGASSAN).
The oil and gas unions said only working and effective refineries can remove the incessant sufferings Nigerians are facing.
Igwe echoed that the only solution to the problem at hand is for the refineries in the country to be functional and effective and that is the position of the union on the matter.
The NUPENG President added that, if the president can not address the issues affecting the union and the nation as whole, the oil workers will be left with no other choice than to down-tools any moment.
PENGASSAN President; Comrade Babatunde Ogun also spoke on the need to improve on the ills in the oil and gas sector saying the insensitivity of government to listen to the union led the oil industry to the present situation it is presently, as most marketers have hiked the price.
Ogun remarked that corruption in the industry calls for proper scrutiny and called on the Federal Government to stop casualization and improve the security of the workers.
Other issues discussed included the unions support for the passage of the petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), deregulation of the downstream sector as well as assessment of the Removal of the fuel subsidy.