Osisioma (Abia)â€”Independent oil marketers in Abia State, have closed their service stations in protest over the â€œincessant harassment and arrestâ€ of tanker drivers by the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC).
It was gathered that the Chairman of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Union (PTDU), Chief Goddy Ukwu, and six other drivers, who went to Umuahia to protest against the situation were beaten, arrested and detained.
The Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Chief Lawrence Obetta, said that the closure of petrol stations â€œbecame necessary for people to know what we are suffering.â€
Obetta said that independent marketers usually travel to Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri to buy products since supplies to the Osisioma depot, near Aba, ceased about two years ago.
â€œPainfully, the trucks will travel all the way from Lagos and other places without problem until it gets to Abia State, when men of the NSCDC will begin to harass them.â€
He explained that the tanker drivers were often accused of loading from illegal depots and carrying illegal products, and said that they were tired of these incessant harassment and arrest.
â€œWe are not on strike, we only closed the stations so that we can have some rest,â€ ObettaÂ said, adding that â€œbusiness will soon resume, following the intervention of the state government.â€
The PTDU chairman described his ordeal in the hands of the security operatives as â€œunfortunate.â€
â€œIt is unfortunate that they made me a scapegoat and wanted to eliminate me by the kind of beating they gave me in Umuahia,â€ Obetta said, describing the protest as â€œpeaceful.â€
He denied the allegations by the State Corps Commandant, Mr Nathaniel Ubong, that members of the union indulged in ferrying illegal products such as crude and adulterated products.
â€œPTDU does not tolerate its members engaging in illegal transactions. This is why I always intervene each time my members are unduly harassed and arrested.â€
Obetta denied that his members took their protest to the corpsâ€™ outstation at Isiala Ngwa Junction on the Enugu-Port Harcout Expressway, where they were accused of â€œbeating up men of the corps and vandalising impounded trucks.â€