Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Calabar depot, says it would shut down depots and 400 petrol stations owned by its 500 members in the wake of alleged incessant Police harassment.
The 500 members in PMAN Calabar depot are drawn from Makurdi, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states and are members of the eastern zone of the association. The zone has been at loggerheads with the Police over alleged attempts to foist a factional leadership on the association across Enugu, Aba, Rivers, and Cross River.
The National President of the association, Sanusi Fari, in a statement in September, had decried the alleged incessant attacks by the Police at their secretariats in Port Harcourt, Aba, Calabar, Enugu and Makurdi depots and directed its members to withdraw their services immediately from all loading depots if Police harassment continued.
Not long after they suspended their strike following intervention by top government officials and the Police top hierarchy, IPMAN Calabar secretariat was allegedly invaded by policemen from Federal Housing Police Division, Calabar, at about 6:00PM on Thursday, September 30, 2021.
Reacting to the alleged invasion in a chat with journalists, the Calabar depot chairman of IPMAN, Robert Obi, said, “It is becoming a habit by the Police to not only harass the leadership and attempt to impose a factional leadership even when the issues concerning who is the authentic chairmen and the national president had been settled by the Supreme Court.”
Obi explained that “the Supreme Court judgment of February 21, 2019 and that of Federal High Court Calabar dated June 19, 2019 had settled the succession tussle, “as both judgments recognised automatic succession of the Deputy National President, Sanusi Abdu Fari, as National President of IPMAN, based on the 1997 constitution of the association.”
He added that the legal unit of the Police headquarters headed by one CP Daso Oruebo had advised Police to recognise the leadership of Fari and withdraw from the national secretariat in Abuja in compliance with the court orders which, incidentally, should be extended to other branches having emerged from the same process.
He said, “rather than Police authorities enforcing the orders and restoring peace in the association in Eastern zone, they are igniting the fire and trying to impose a leadership on our members, especially in Calabar depot, thereby creating an unknown faction to take over our secretariat at Calabar depot.
“We were surprised that on Thursday, September 30, 2021 at about 6:00PM, a Police team from Federal Housing stormed our secretariat and tried to force us out and install an illegal leadership.
“When we confronted them, they told us that they got orders from above to come and take over our office at Calabar depot. And if this act of impunity continues, we shall not hesitate to withdraw the services of our over 500 members.
“Besides, we would go further to shut down the over 20 depots in our branch and close down over 400 petrol stations to protest the attack on our office and harassment of our members. We have over suffered [sic] in the hands of the Police.
“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. They had attempted to take over our secretariat in Port Harcourt, our members resisted them there. Now they have come down to Calabar to chase our members out of our secretariat and we shall continue to resist such illegal moves.
“Our last option is to embark on an indefinite strike in the days ahead. 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.”
In her reaction, the Cross River State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Irene Ugbo, said: “We are not aware that a team of policemen from Federal Housing Division went to IPMAN office to take over the secretariat. We will investigate that and revert.”