The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Cross River State chapter, has said it may soon stop distribution and sales of petroleum products in the state due to continuous harassment by the police.
IPMAN’s position followed another round of invasion of its Calabar office today which led to a mild protest by members.
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The Calabar Depot Chairman of IPMAN, Robert Obi, said the police were violating even the order of court restraining them from carrying out any action against the oil marketers.
Mr Obi told journalists that when they confronted the police they were told that they got orders “‘from above’ to come and take over our office at the Calabar Depot.”
Meanwhile, there is a leadership tussle between Chief Obasi Lawson and Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo; both from Abia State, since 2015 over who is the President of IPMAN.
Mr Obi said: “And if this act of impunity continues, we shall not hesitate to withdraw our services because the police have no business in how we run our affairs; neither do they have the right to determine who and who our members are.”
He said rather than the police authorities enforcing law and order and restoring peace in the association, they were igniting a fire and trying to impose a leadership on the members, especially in the Calabar Depot, thereby creating an “unknown faction to take over our secretariat at Calabar Depot.”
Mr Obi, therefore, declared that “We want to draw the attention of the general public to the continued harassment of our leadership and some members of IPMAN in the name of enforcing a directive by a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG). We were surprised that about 6 pm, a police team from federal housing stormed our secretariat and tried to force us out and install an illegal leadership.”
Mr Obi who noted that their last option would be to embark on an indefinite strike in the days ahead, said, “It is the economy and the public that would suffer the consequences of the strike as other branches would not hesitate to join us in the fight to liberate IPMAN in the zone. So, we call on the federal government and police authorities to call their men to order.”
The Special Adviser on Petroleum to Governor Ben Ayade, Peter Abang Okim, said whatever judgement the police were enforcing the state government would not accept any other person to be Chairman of IPMAN in Calabar except he was an indigene of Cross River State.
A lawyer to Cross River State IPMAN, Daniel Mgbe, said police officers in Abuja were fueling the IPMAN leadership crisis in the South East.
When contacted police authorities in the state refused to speak on the matter.