Yesterday’s evening, Garba Shehu, spokesman to President Muhammadu Buhari, while attempting to justify the recent increase of petrol pump price nationwide, said the product sold for N600 in 2013.
Mr Shehu while making the claim on Twitter, shared a screenshot of a national daily with the lead story captioned “Petrol now sells for N600.” He told Nigerians not to be deceived by the now opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which held sway at the time of the cost.
“Don’t allow the PDP to deceive you. Amidst acute shortages, they sold petrol at N600 per litre on Easter Sunday in 2013 (See Punch published on that day),” he tweeted attaching the screenshot.
Checks by TODAY POLITICS showed the claim is inaccurate, did not occur on the said date and was not the official pump price of the product at the time.
A glance at the screenshot showed the publication was made on May 25, 2015.
A visit to the online version of the newspaper in a bid to verify the story was unsuccessful as it was not found on the platform which has existed for more than 17 years now and created on Friday, April 11, 2003.
Further search on the internet threw up a blog, Pan African News, which copied the said content from Punch online version and attributed credit to the national daily. The content published on May 25, 2015 showed the N600 price of petrol at the time was its cost at black market due to scarcity of the product and not the official pump price.
“Our correspondents reported on Sunday that petrol had dried up in almost all the filling stations nationwide, while black marketers capitalised on the prevailing scarcity by selling the product in jerry cans for between N200 and N600 per litre in places like Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Kaduna and Oyo states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory,” part of the story read.
Two other stories, titled: “Family Barred Us From Chukwumerije’s Burial – Abia Govt” and “Rivers Cps, Military Commanders Reporting To Patience Jonathan – Amaechi,” found on the said publication, investigation also showed, was published on May 25, 2015, two days to the hand over of the then outgoing administration.
The two stories when checked on Punch Newspapers website by TODAY POLITICS, did not show up apparently due to reconstruction of the site. This reporter further checked the internet and traced the stories to Nairaland, one of the online forums in the country, with links on it credited to the national daily.
VERDICT: The claim of the presidential spokesman that the product was in 2013 sold for N600 is inaccurate. That was the price at the black market on May 25, 2015 after his principal defeated then incumbent president who handed over power two days after.