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Nigerians groan as fuel scarcity bites harder

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Fuel scarcity which surfaced on Monday with queues yesterday spread to many filling stations in Lagos, Ondo and Abia states as well as other parts of the country. Several motorists said they were caught unawares by the sudden scarcity while others believed that marketers were hoarding fuel to cause artificial scarcity.

Still, others blamed the scarcity on panic buying. Motorists in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, bemoaned the sharp increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN).

Our correspondent, who went round the city, reports that while some marketers around Park Road and Milverton area sold a litre of PMS at either N144 or N145 on Monday but it jumped to between N148 and N150 yesterday.

Some of the transporters, among them Mr. Kelechi Chukwu, said that if nothing was done by the Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to ensure adequate supply of the product across the country, there would be an increase in transport fares during the festive season.

They said that the increase had not affected transport fares at the moment. Chukwu said the situation could result in panic buying and hoarding which could give room for dubious individuals to sell adulterated PMS to unsuspecting members of the public. A marketer disclosed that the price of the product depended on the part of the country where they sourced fuel from.

He said: “You may not be aware that when others where selling petrol at N145, I was selling at N144 and the N148 we are selling now (Tuesday) is because of the part of the country where we sourced the product from. So, we will reset the pump price to the approved price as soon as we start getting the product at a normal price.”

There was panic buying in Akure metropolis yesterday as there were rumours of increase from N145 to N160 per litre.

Most of filling stations were closed down yesterday morning except some major marketers, who managed to sell to customers who were on long queues to buy in their cars, motorcycles and jerry-cans.

The scramble to get petrol ahead of the reported fuel hike decreased considerably as many filling stations had begun operations yesterday evening, still selling at the official N145 per litre. However, some independent marketers shut their filling stations to motorists in different parts of the state as at the time of filling this report. A frustrated cab operator, Femi Ajanaku, at Ojota area of Lagos metropolis said: “I am sick and tired of this country called Nigeria.”

The cab driver spoke after waiting endlessly to buy fuel at MRS Filling Station at Ojota. Ajanaku said he had waited for more than four hours in the scorching sun to buy fuel. He said: “It is not easy staying in the sun, waiting to buy fuel. This is a natural gift we are blessed with by God but here we are suffering to get it.

“Countries which are blessed like Nigeria in terms of natural resources are not going through the stress we are witnessing in Nigeria. I have visited about two other filling stations in parts of the state but they were selling beyond the regulatory price. It was a friend of mine who directed me to MRS here at Ojota, where they sell their own at N145 per litre. Government should look into it urgently because we are suffering and dying.”

Mrs. Morenike Ogunbajo, a retired civil servant, said while she was waiting for her turn to buy fuel at MRS she prayed for the country to come out of the series of problems confronting it. She said: “I have also stayed in the sun for about two hours waiting to buy fuel, because of the huge traffic at the station.

We have been struggling with petroleum problem in this country for long.

Each government which comes promises to solve it, yet we have not been able to solve the problem. Mr. John Chukwu, a cab operator, urged government to fix the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, saying the traffic in that corridor was preventing the truck drivers to access the depots. He said: “I believe the fuel price has been fixed to the peak, I don’t know where they want us to go now because I heard they want to increase fuel price once more.

They are maltreating us in this country; we cannot continue like there is going to be solution one day.” When our correspondent visited Owena and Biode motor parks at Ojota, transport union members said they had not jacked up transport fare. A driver, who identified himself simply as Oche, who plies Lagos to Makudi in Benue State, said Lagos to Makudi was N5,000.

He said: “We still retain the old fare, but we pray the scarcity does not go beyond this week.” While, Lagos to Ibadan still remained at N1,500 for cars and N1,000 for buses and Lagos to Akure still remained at N2,500, Port Harcourt transport fare goes for N5,000 for cars and N4,500 for buses.

Mr. Jide Idowu, a driver at Owena motor park, said Abeokuta from Lagos remained at N1,000, while Ijebu-Ode was still N1,000 and Sagamu was N700.

According to him, Ore in Ondo State is N1,450, and Ondo town goes for N2,500. He said: “I see no reason why somebody should decide to frustrate the effort of the present government why we the masses are always at the receiving end. Whoever wants to make the country unbearable for us will not know peace because we are dying silently and the elite are enjoying.”

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Metro and Crime

Gunmen abduct businessman, kill masquerade, two others

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Armed men have kidnapped the Chairman and Chief Executive of Always Petroleum and Gas, Alhaji Otinau Momohjimoh. The oil mogul, who is in his early 40s, was abducted about 8p.m. on Sunday opposite Okene Central Mosque, kogi State, where he often spend time with friends and business associates.

A witness said the gunmen, whose numbers could not be ascertained because it was dark, stormed the place and started shooting sporadically to scare people away. The witness, who identified himself as Usman Ishaq, added that as people were scampering into safety, two of the gunmen held Momohjimoh’s hands and dragged him into their Toyota Camry car and sped away. Ishaq said that the kidnappers were yet to contact the family of the oil magnate and that no ransom had been placed on him.

In a related development, two people and a masquerade were killed at Inoziomi quarters in Adavi Local Government Area during the Ebe festival. The incident, it was learnt, occurred on Saturday between 9p.m. and 10p.m. when gunmen ridding on a motorcycle suddenly opened fire and killed a masquerade and two people on the spot while several others were seriously wounded.

The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. William Aya, confirmed the killing of the masquerade, but said Momohjimoh’s abduction had not been reported to the command. Aya promised that the perpetrators of the heinous act would be apprehended to face the wrath of the law.

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Metro and Crime

Man impregnates, weds teenage sister in Anambra church

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Just like a fairy tale, a 25-year-old man, Mr. Chiadi Ezeibekwe, said he impregnated his 17-year-old younger sister. As if that was not enough, he wedded her at a church at their Agba village in Ekwulobia, Anambra State. Agba youths, who saw the marriage as “an abomination,” burnt down the church where the wedding was consummated.

It was learnt that the wedding was conducted by Chiadi’s elder brother, Mr. Chijioke Ezeibekwe, a Shepherd of Dwelling Fullness of God Church, Agba. Chiadi quoted Deuteronomy 36: 6, which, according to him, permits marriage between brothers and ssters of the same parents. However, a member of the church, who spoke on condition of anonymity, countered that. He referred the brothers to Leviticus 18:9, which clearly speaks against marriage between brother and sister.

A source noted that immediately their eldest brother, Mr. Emeka Ezeibekwe, heard of the “incestuous marriage,” he alerted the clan head, who summoned the family to an emergency meeting. When their father, popularly, known as “Luisco,” was contacted for comments, he said that his concern was a way out of the situation, since according to him, “what has happened, has happened’’.

Addressing the crowd which gathered on their premises, their mother claimed that his son’s action was biblical, saying Chiadi paid her the bride price. Further enquiries showed that Chiadi and some members of the family were baptised into the Adventist Church after leaving their former church in August 2016.

“Since they were baptised into the church, they have been engaged in weird and rebellious behaviour as well as false teachings,’’ said Mr. Onyeka, a member of the Adventist Church in Ekwulobia. “Because of their rebellious attitude and false teachings, the Seventh Day Adventist Church expelled them since May 2017.

Not long after that, Mr. Chijioke Ezeibekwe started his own church,” Onyeka added. It was also learnt that their grandmother passed away a few days after she found out about the marriage. The Igwe-in-Cabinet had since summoned the family for interrogation.

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Metro and Crime

Police probe ex-speaker’s brother’s killing

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Police yesterday commenced investigation into the murder of a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at a ward rally in Nwofe Primary School, Agbaja, Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. The victim, Elias Nwankwegu popularly known as Okarika, who is younger brother of former Speaker of the state House of Assembly and Attorney-General, Chief Augustine Nwankwegu, was at the weekend shot dead by suspected thugs during a political gathering.

A man, Emmanuel Nwofe, has been arrested in connection with the killing. The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Loveth Odah, confirmed Nwofe’s arrest to our correspondent.

Elias’ body has been deposited at the mortuary of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA 2). Odah said the suspect, Emmanuel, in his statement, denied having a hand in Elias’ killing.

She said: “He is being accused of knowing the killers but he denied the allegation in his statement. He said he heard noises in the classroom and went there to find out what was happening. He said that some people there slapped him and kicked him to the ground and collected his phones.

“Then, shortly after that, he heard a gunshot and he took to his heels. He said he did not know his assailants as they were not from the area.” Odah said the command had also decided to invite other persons at the event for questioning in a bid to find out what actually happened.

She appealed to politicians in the state to always inform the police before carrying out any rally so that the police could deploy officers to the area to ensure safety of lives and property. “When we are not informed, we may not deploy our officers to such event and that is when such things may happen. We were not officially informed of the event,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Francis Nwifuru, has denied having a hand in Elias’ killing. He was reacting to allegations that the killers were some boys loyal to his faction of the PDP in the area.

The Speaker and former Speaker, Augustine Nwankwegu, have been having a running battle in the constituency since Nwifuru defeated Augustine in the party’s primaries in 2010. Spokesman for the speaker, Mr. Tony Nwizi, exonerated his boss from Elias’ death. Nwizi said that the gathering was a ward meeting not a rally in support of the speaker’s re-election bid as claimed in some quarters.

He said: “What happened is that the party was supposed to hold a ward meeting there. The ward is not even Mr Speaker’s ward but the current Attorney General Cletus Ofoke, who is from the ward called Mr Speaker and begged him to come attend.”

Nwizi said Nwifuru decided to make a brief stop at the meeting on his way to Ikwo Local Government Area for a burial before the incident occurred. Nwizi noted that the victim was Nwifuru’s staunch supporter so the speaker or any of his supporters had no reason to attack one of their allies in the ward.

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