By Ike Uchechukwu, CALABAR
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMAN), SouthEast Zone has vowed to shutdown depots in Calabar, Port Harcourt and Enugu over what they described as incessant police harassment of its leaders.
Cross River Chairman of the association, Mr Robert Obi, made the disclosure in an interview with newsmen on Friday in Calabar.
He said that the move to close all the depots and filling stations was reached at after series of meetings with some stakeholders on the new alleged moves by the Police Legal unit at the force headquarters, Abuja.
He alleged that the move was to arrest its executives across the zone and possibly install factional leadership.
He said that the action, when carried out, would lead to more crisis in the association in spite of various court pronouncements laying the matter to rest.
Vanguard learned that the zone has been engulfed by leadership squabble which led to various court cases been instituted.
The South East zone of IPMAN, comprises Enugu, Aba, Rivers, Cross River and Benue states with over 40 depots and 1,000 petrol stations with about 2,000 members.
The zone has been having a running battle with officers of the Nigeria Police over alleged attempt by the police to “impose” a factional leadership on the association.
Obi frowned at the alleged illegal moves by the police authorities and some “disgruntled elements” to either misinterpret the Supreme Court ruling or subvert the will of the people.
He said their aim was to impose their cronies on the association even when the facts of the matter are very clear.
He explained that the Attorney general of the Federation letter, copied to Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo and his faction, who lost out at the Supreme Court, had acknowledged Alhaji Sanusi Fari as authentic National President of IPMAN as well as his Depot/Unit chairmen.
His words :” Following the legal advice, the police are putting all arsenals to arrest the current executives of IPMAN in Nigeria, particularly in Calabar NNPC depot and allegedly hand them over to the people of their choice.
“IPMAN warns that further step shouldn’t be taken by the Police to interfere with the current leadership of the association and we will shut down the distribution channels of petroleum and allied products in Nigeria pending when the police abide by the right thing.
“IPMAN leadership has resolved to continue with their rights in the constitution and abide by the extant laws and subsisting judgments of the courts in their favour,” Obi said .
When contacted , Force Headquarters spokesman, Mr Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said he was not aware of the matter.