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About 13 filling stations have been sealed off by the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Eket Field Office, in Akwa Ibom State for acts of illegality and non-renewal of licenses.
The DPR Operations Controller in the state, Mr Tamunoiminabo Kingsley-Sundaye, told News Agency of Nigeria, NAN on Wednesday in Uyo that the stations were shut during a routine surveillance on petrol stations.
Kingsley-Sundaye said the filling stations were sealed in Uyo, Essien Udim, Ikot Ekpene, Abak, Etim, Ika Local Government Areas of the state.
He explained that out of the 13 stations sealed, seven were sealed for non-approval to build or operate the stations while six did not renew their licenses.
“Seven of them do not have approval to build filling stations.
“The team of DPR on routine surveillance went out to some areas in Akwa Ibom to ensure compliance in terms of standard, safety engineering standard and operating standard,” he said.
The operations controller said that the department had given prior warning to defaulting stations but they were recalcitrant and refused to comply with guidelines and standard of operations.
“There are some people who are adamant and they feel the system is weak or the government is weak to make them to obey the law. We will continue to do what is right,” Kingsley-Sundaye assured.
He said that the department collaborated with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to arrest defaulters of oil and gas in the state in October.
He noted that after the arrest, a good number of the defaulters came back to do the right thing while two petroleum marketers, who were arrested, refused to do the right thing.
Kingsley-Sundaye added that those petroleum marketers who built filling stations without approved licenses would be sanctioned and prosecuted in the court of law.
“The department will approach the court of law to prosecute the defaulters in the state.
“If your license expires, the law states, you don’t have the authority to continue doing such business.
“When you continue to operate illegally, it is a criminal matter but not a civil matter and the law enforcement agency will assist us to do what is right.
“It is cheaper for you to obey the law than to break it,” the operation controller said.
He advised some of the petroleum marketers to approach DPR if they wanted to build filling stations or site oil and gas facilities in the state.
Kingsley-Sundaye said that the department would continue to give the petroleum marketers guidelines, directives and advised them to always follow them to do the right in their operations.
He disclosed that the department was compiling a list of all illegal filling stations in the state, stressing that DPR would partner State Government to demolish them.