By Ike Uchechukwu

Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Calabar Depot has vowed to shut down its depots and 400 petrol stations owned by its members over incessant police harassment.

IPMAN Calabar Depot is made up of over 500 members from Makurdi, Cross River, and Akwa Ibom states and they are members of Eastern zone of the association.

Vanguard gathered that the Eastern Zone of IPMAN has been at daggers drawn with officers of the Nigeria Police Force over alleged attempts by the police to foist a factional leadership for IPMAN across Enugu, Aba, Rivers, and Cross River.

Recall, early September, the national president of IPMAN, Alhaji (Engr.) Sanusi Fari, in a statement, noted with dismay the incessant attack by men of Nigeria police force 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 continues.

Findings however revealed that barely three weeks after suspension of the strike following intervention by some top government officers and police authority, IPMAN Calabar secretariat was allegedly invaded by some crack team of policemen from Federal Housing Police Division Calabar about 6:00pm on Thursday, September 29, 2021.

Addressing journalists, the Calabar Depot chairman of IPMAN, Comrade Robert Obi, said it was becoming a habit by the police to harass the leadership.

Also, they have been attempting to impose a factional leadership even when the issues cornering who is the authentic chairmen and national president have been settled by Supreme Court.

Obi who wondered what the interest of the police was explained that the Supreme Court judgment of February 21, 2019 and that of Federal High Court Calabar dated June 19, 2019 have settled the succession tussle “as both judgements recognized automatic succession of the Deputy National President, Alh. Sanusi Abdu Fari, as National President of IPMAN, based on 1997 constitution of the association.”

He hinted that even the legal unit of the police headquarters headed by one CP Daso Oruebo had advised police to recognize the leadership of Alh. Fari and withdraw from the occupation of national secretariat in Abuja in compliance with the court orders which incidentally should be extended to other branches having emerged from the same process.

According to him, rather than police authorities enforcing the orders and restoring peace in the association in Eastern zone, they are rather igniting fire and trying to impose a leadership on the members, especially in Calabar Depot, thereby creating an unknown faction to take over our secretariat at Calabar Depot.

Obi said “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 top Deputy Inspector-General of Police.

“We were surprised that on Thursday, 29, 2021 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 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 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 have 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.

When contacted, the Cross River state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Irene Ugbo, said the Command was not aware of the matter but promised to launch an investigation into the matter as soon as possible with a view to finding lasting solution to the imbroglio.

Irene 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 launch an investigation into that and revert, ours is to make sure that there is no breach of peace in any form at all, she assured.

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