APC 1Lagos 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.

Governor Akimwunmi Ambode was forced to issue the statement following a purported protest carried out by members of the oil workers over the controversial debt.

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, Tokunbo Korodo had threatened that members of the association would embark on protest with over 1,000 tankers, and that Lagosians would be subjected to scarcity of fuel if the request was not acceded to by government.

According to a statement signed by the state’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Lagos government claimed that the said transaction took place between an independent marketer and the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC) before this present government assumed office. And that its investigation into the transaction so far indicates that the deal was fraudulent.

The statement read in parts: “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.

By Olisemeka Obeche

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