An order restraining the Federal Government from continual deregulation of the downstream oil sector has been given by a Federal High Court sitting Abuja, on Tuesday. The court declared that deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, which the Federal Government had already embarked upon, was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
Lagos-based lawyer and rights activist, Bamidele Aturu, had dragged the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Attorney General of the Federation before the court, challenging the 2009 decision of government to stop fixing prices of petroleum products in Nigeria. The AGF raised an objection against the application.
However, delivering judgment in the suit, the presiding judge, Justice Adamu Bello, issued an order restraining the Federal Government from deregulating the downstream sector of the petroleum industry or from failing to fix the prices of petroleum products as mandatorily required by the Petroleum Act and the Price Control Act.
He also held that the deregulation policy was in conflict with Section 16(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which provided that the government should control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.
According to him, “That the policy decision of the Defendants to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by not fixing the prices at which petroleum products may be sold in Nigeria is unlawful, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever being in flagrant violation of the mandatory provision of section 4 of the Price Control Act, cap P28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”