Youth have attacked and damaged multiple filling stations in Ekiti State after days of biting fuel scarcity caused by the disagreement between the state government and oil marketers.
Early on Tuesday, youth, suspected to be political thugs, invaded some fuel stations not selling products and vandalised some installations and equipment.
Owners of the stations, who condemned the act, put their losses at several millions of naira.
The marketers had for the past one week, stopped the supply and sale of products to the state in compliance with the order of the leaderships of The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG; Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN; and Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, to protest the revocation of the C of Os of members of the union.
They are also angry with a court case instituted against two of the unions by Governor Ayo Fayose.
Fuel stations worst affected include NIPCO at Adebayo, owned by Suleiman Akinbami, the secretary, Petroleum Marketing Dealers in Ekiti state; Tetra Abby Company Ltd, also at Adebayo, as well as its branch along Dallimore street, owned by a marketer popularly called Ade Bank.
The attack came 24 hours after the governor in a broadcast programme, said information available to him indicated that some youth were frustrated and might take actions against the striking marketers. He however said he had pacified them, and urged them not to take the laws into their hands.
Also Ekiti Youth Artisan Coalition had on Friday threatened to embark on “mass action and consequences may not be pleasant”, if the marketers refused to call off the strike.
Witnesses say the attackers wielded dangerous weapons such as axes, cutlasses and broken bottles.
They were said to have arrived at NIPCO as early as 7a.m., and vandalised it.
“The thugs came in three vehicles. One Hilux van with government’s number plate and two mini buses, popularly called ‘Akoto,” one of the attendants said.
“They were armed with dangerous weapons. We had to scale the fence to escape through the back fence because they were aimed at killing whoever dared to challenge them.”
It was gathered that besides the vandalism, the hoodlums also made away with gallons of engine oil and other lubricants.
The thugs visited Tetra Abby Company Ltd and destroyed all the six dispensing machines and also attacked the building housing some offices within the filling station.
According to an official at the station who pleaded not to be named, the attackers forced themselves into the manager’s office and attempted to force the vault open but did not succeed.
Mr. Akinbami, owner of NIPCO, blamed the government and the police for the vandalism.
“The government in Ekiti has declared war against me and every member of my family. My life is in danger, so I’m hiding somewhere and cannot say when I would come to Ekiti. I’m from Osun state, but such things can never happen in Osun state,” he said in a telephone conversation.
“As I’m talking to you now, policemen, including mobile police are destroying my filling station at Adebayo Street. The police are moving around filling stations to supervise those carrying out the damage.”
But the Ekiti State Government has denied that it was responsible for the attack on the filling stations.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Idowu Adelusi, told PREMIUM TIMES that the people were protesting the deliberate infliction of pain on the masses by the petroleum marketers.
“Ekiti citizens are suffering, the economy of Ekiti is being crippled by the marketers,” Mr. Fayose’s spokesman said.
“Even the funeral of General Adebayo was frustrated by the marketers because they refused to sell fuel to those coming in for the burial, we had to tell them to buy fuel from neighboring states.”
He stated the government was interested in the safety of the people and was determined to get the owners of the filling stations to comply with the laws of the land in the siting of the stations.
“Some of the stations are sited near schools, markets and residential areas contrary to the law, but they are refusing to comply, and as a government we must ensure the safety of the people, but they are interested only in their gains,” said Mr. Adelusi.
“Some of the filling stations in question have no approval from DPR and they are also not insured.
“Some of them have mosques and other worship centers in the filling stations contrary to the law.”
The Ekiti Police Public Relations Officer, Alberto Adeyemi, denied police involvement in any vandalism, saying instead that the police responded to the call and deployed patrol teams to prevent further break down of law and other.
“How can we be involved in destroying the filling stations, when we actually responded to the call and deployed our men to ensure peace in the town?” he said.
“If you go to the town right now you will see that our men are patrolling everywhere, and we have warned hoodlums not to take laws into their hands.” (PremiumTimes)