By Bamidele Aturu
“The immorality and wickedness of the policy is writ large…”
President Goodluck Jonathan has continued in the controversial and detestable path of his predecessors by choosing to foul the festive mood of Nigerians in the New Year with the announcement of the commencement of so-called deregulation of the oil industry and the withdrawal of the phantom subsidies on the prices of petroleum products.
It bears repeating for the umpteenth time that deregulation of petroleum products is an illegality that is unknown to Nigerian law. It is indeed a contravention of an existing law of this country. The Price Control Act an existing legislation by virtue of section 315 of the Constitution clearly lists petroleum products as one of those products which prices must be regulated by the Government.
This law to the best of my knowledge has not been repealed. It is therefore obligatory for the Government and its agencies, including in particular the contraption known as the PPPRA, to obey the law. For purporting to deregulate the downstream sector of the oil industry the government is violating the rule of law which it claims to respect. I should also point out another respect in which the deregulation is a negation of the rule of law.
On 14 October, 2009, I filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja challenging the proposed deregulation policy. That suit is still pending before Honourable Justice Bello. The Government and its relevant agencies have filed their response to the suit and so cannot claim not to be aware that it is pending. Yet the law is clear, as laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Military Governor of Lagos State vs Ojukwu that once a party is aware of the pendency of an action asking for injunctive reliefs it would amount to executive lawlessness to do anything to frustrate the act as the government seeks to do in this case.
Thus no matter how one looks at the deregulation policy of this administration it is an act of irredeemable illegality. The way things stand I will be compelled to bring an interim application for the court to urgently restrain the government and prevent the crisis and anarchy that the policy portends. This would be done before close of work this week.
The immorality and wickedness of the policy is writ large and there is no point to make on submission on that. It suffices to simply point out that by the policy has shown clearly that it is unwilling to deal with the cabal holding us to ransom in the industry or fight corruption; for at the end of the day the cabal are still going to be in the business of importing fuel and ripping off Nigerians.
Without doubt the policy will be resisted and fought to a logical conclusion. The fight will define and determine who as between the Government and the people own this country. May God bless Nigeria!