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Amidst fears of price increase —–petroleum tanker drivers may go on strike

John Johnson
The challenges bedeviling the downstream sector of the oil industry seems to be getting complicated with the latest threat by the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG)  to withdraw their services.
Their threat, if carried out will signal another round of fuel scarcity in the country, was coming on the heels of the possible increase in pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as Petrol.
The anger of the Petroleum tanker drivers, eyewitness news learnt, followed what they described as neglect of their welfares and safety by their employers, theNigeria Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).
At the executive meeting of the union held on Saturday,March 27, 2021 in Oyo State, the tanker drivers said they will embark on the strike if their employers, NATO, failed to negotiate the renewal of the Collective Bargaining Agreement for new working conditions for petroleum tanker drivers.
In addition, they threatened to go on  industrial action if government failed to enforce the compulsory installation of Safety Valves in all Petroleum trucks to protect the inflammable contents of the trucks from spilling over in a situation of road mishaps.

The tanker drivers, in the  communique signed by the National Chairman, Comrade Salmon Akanni Oladiti, issued a 14-day ultimatum to NARTO to initiate new conditions of service for petroleum tanker drivers effective 27th day of March 2021.

Also, it urged the Federal Government to ensure that the installation of safety valve is made mandatory in all petroleum trucks with effect from 1st of May 2021.

The communique read “The Branch Executive Council in session is not unmindful of the pains and discomforts our decisions and intending actions will have on the general public but these are hard and difficult decisions we must take for the sake of our members and even the general public,”

“The meeting in session noted with deep pains that the expiring collective bargaining agreement has been in operation for the past six years even when the country has been experiencing spiral inflationary trend that is further complicated by destructive powers of COVID 19 pandemic.

“The council in session expressed deep worries that Petroleum Tanker Drivers have been going through harrowing financial situations even while rendering selfless national services, to ensure delivery of Petroleum products to homes and factories in every nook and crannies of this country, day and nights, in good and bad weather and on highly deplorable highways.

“The branch executive council in session therefore resolved that following the continuing agitations of our members and the seeming hesitation of NARTO to negotiate the renewal of the CBA, the branch will no longer be able to guarantee the continued service of our members in the petroleum products distribution across the country if a new conditions of service for Petroleum Tanker Drivers is not provided for in the next fourteen days with effect from today 27th day of March 2021.

“The Branch Executive Council in session discussed with sadness, pains and deep worries, the increasing rate of fire incidences involving petroleum trucks with accompanying massive destruction of lives and properties of our members and general public.

“The Council in session noted with deep concerns the government’s dilly dallying attitude towards the enforcement of the compulsory installation of Safety Valves in all Petroleum trucks to protect the inflammable contents of these trucks from spilling over in a situation of road mishaps.

“The council in session expressed disappointment over the failure of the Federal Government to live up to its various commitments with various stakeholders in several meetings called by the government on the same matter.

“Insensitive government officials and unscrupulous businessmen will no longer be allowed to keep destroying the lives of our members and innocent general public. These fire accidents are becoming too many but definitely avoidable.

“It is in the well informed opinion of the council in session that these safety valves, if installed, will go a long way in reducing the rate of fire accidents involving petroleum trucks and therefore save precious lives and properties.

“In the light of the above, the Executive Council in session resolved to direct all our members to withdraw their services if installation of Safety valve is not made mandatory in all petroleum trucks with effect from 1st of May 2021, in view of the fact that our members are usually the first casualties in any situation of fire accidents involving petroleum trucks,” the communique concluded.

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Court reverses self over contempt charge against Fidelity Bank chief

Managing Director of Fidelity Bank,Nneka Chinwe Onyeali-Ikpe
The Eyewitness reporter

A Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos has vacated its ruling that convicted and sentenced the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank,Nneka Chinwe Onyeali-Ikpe and Company Secretary of Fidelity Bank, Mrs. Unuigboje Ezinwa to six weeks in prison or a fine of Four Hundred Thousand Naira respectively for contempt.

The Chief Magistrate, Mr. Lateef Owolabi vacated the order in a Suit No: MIK/4726/22 between Justin Ahmed, (judgement creditor),  Prince Enabulele Osazee, (judgement debtor) and Fidelity Bank Plc, (1st Garnishee/Applicant).
The court, in an earlier ruling delivered on February 6, 2023,  held that the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nneka Chinwe Onyeali-Ikpe and the Company Secretary, Mrs. Unuigboje Ezinwa should be committed to six weeks’ imprisonment over alleged disobedience of a garnishee order of the court restraining the bank from allowing a judgement debtor access to his account.
However, at the resumed proceedings on the matter on Feb 15, 2023, the court vacated the committal order on the premise of facts presented before the court that the alleged acts of contempt were not deliberate but arose out of a communication gap between the said parties and the erstwhile counsel.
The court in its ruling also stated that the error or sin of the counsel should not be visited on a party or litigants. The court also noted that the monies that were the subject matter and fulcrum of the contempt proceedings have since been paid to the judgment creditor.
“From the materials presented before this court by the applicant, this application falls within the classic rule where the error or sin of the counsel should not be visited on a party or litigants. Moreover, the applicant has averred that the monies subject matter, the fulcrum of the contempt proceedings had since been paid to the judgment creditor.
”Having fully discharged this payment to the satisfaction of the judgment creditor, this court should not be seen to cry more than the bereaved”, Mr Lateef Owolabi held.
”The solicitor to the bank explained that Fidelity Bank, being a law-abiding institution that will never or under any circumstance, directly or indirectly denigrate the integrity of the nation’s judiciary, had upon receipt of the garnishee order nisi on December 22, 2022, conducted a search immediately, and the result showed several accounts bearing similar names to the Judgment Debtor’s (Prince Enabulele Osazee).”
”To prevent the bank from erroneously restricting the wrong account, the bank filed an affidavit requesting additional account details to enable it to ascertain the correct account(s) to restrict.”
He further stated that, on January 16, 2023, the bank received the Judgment Creditor’s affidavit showing the account number of the Judgment Debtor. Armed with the correct account number, the bank immediately identified and placed a lien on the Judgment Debtor’s account. Unfortunately, during the intervening period, the judgement debtor had carried on depositing and withdrawing from his account.
In vacating the order on February 15, 2023, the Chief Magistrate held that based on the materials before the court, the applicant has been able to tether the law to the facts to warrant the grant of the relief sought on their own strength and not based on lack of opposition.

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Supreme court restrains FG from enforcing naira swap deadline

The Eyewitness reporter
There was a temporary relief for Nigerians over the scarcity of naira notes as the Supreme Court has issued an order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from enforcing the  February 10 deadline for the phasing out of the old naira notes.
A five-member panel of the court, led by Justice John Okoro said that it was a matter of urgent national importance that the court intervenes and grant the order.
The ruling was on an ex-parte motion filed by the governments of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states
The order, according to Justice Okoro, who read the lead ruling, is to subsist pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the state for interlocutory injunctions.
The court adjourned till February 15 for the hearing of the motion on notice and the preliminary objection filed by the defendant – the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), challenging the court’s jurisdiction over the case.
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CBN succumbs  to pressure, extends use of old naira notes to February 10

The Eyewitness reporter
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has finally caved in to Public outcry over the February 1st deadline for the use of old naira notes when on Sunday, the apex bank announced February 10 as the new date.
Announcing the new deadline in a statement, Governor Central Bank Of Nigeria(CBN), Godwin Emefiele, said the decision to add extra 10 days was “to allow for the collection of more old notes”

Up till Saturday, CBN had insisted on the 31st January deadline for the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 despite overwhelming complaints that the notes are either not available or in short supply in the banks or their Automated Teller Machines.

Last October, Emefiele announced the Naira redesign policy which entails the issuance of new notes to replace the existing N200, N500 and N1,000 series.

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