The Lagos State Government on Tuesday said it would not succumb to the attempt by the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) to blackmail it into paying a questionable N224 million debt.
While reacting to a purported protest carried out by members of the association, the State Government said though it was not against peaceful protest by aggrieved citizens but it would not be stampeded into taking any action without strictly following due process and rule of law.
NUPENG had alleged that the N224 million was for payment for the supply of diesel and kerosene to the State Government for execution of direct labour projects in Ojodu between October 2014 and May 2015.
South-West Chairman of NUPENG, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo had threatened that members of the association would embark on the protest with over 1, 000 tankers, and that Lagosians would be subjected to experience scarcity of fuel if the request was not acceded to by government.
But in statement signed on Tuesday by the State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, the government recalled that the said transaction took place between an independent marketer and the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC) before this present government assumed office.
Ayorinde said the company wrote the government about the transaction, and government replied that it wanted to investigate the claim.
According to Ayorinde, “The investigation proved that the claim by the company was fraudulent but while investigation was still ongoing, the company went to NUPENG, and the association agreed to demonstrate on behalf of the company.
“Our position is that the Lagos State Government cannot be stampeded or blackmailed into making payments that have not been verified for which investigation is still ongoing.
“While government is not against peaceful protest by aggrieved citizens, we would like to urge Lagosians to go about their businesses peacefully.
“No amount of blackmail will stop the government from strictly following due process and rule of law,” Ayorinde said.
The government also urged the national leadership of NUPENG to prevail on its Lagos State Chapter to stop using the union to pursue personal gains.
Besides, Ayorinde said the Lagos State Government never entered into any transaction with NUPENG on the issue but a private company, and as such it was strange that the union was now being used to blackmail government.