From Judex Okoro, Calabar

Police officers numbering over 50 from the Anti Cultism and Kidnapping Squad of the Cross River State Command have sealed off the Calabar secretariat of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN).

The stern-looking officers, armed to the teeth, arrived at the IPMAN secretariat located at Esuktang community, close to NNPC deport, in the early hours of Tuesday and cordoned off the premises and adjoining shops and a petrol station within the axis.

The officers, who were hooded, were seen chasing away some petroleum marketers, workers, shop owners, IPMAN leadership ordering them to vacate the premises or face their wrath.

The officers were also observed to be combing buildings in the area, chasing away protesters with placards bearing several inscriptions such as “Police enough is enough, leave Calabar Depot alone”.

When some marketers tried to find out who sent them, the leader of the police team reportedly said: ‘We are acting on the orders of the State Police Commissioner, Aminu Alhassan, and IG of Police. We don’t care who you are. Please, finish what you are doing and leave before we vent our anger. We are only doing our work.’

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Speaking on the development, Robert Obi, the Chairman of IPMAN in the state, condemned the action of the police, maintaining that the officers are trying to instigate a crisis.

‘The police barricaded my office as you can see. With all the court judgments available, they are disobeying these judgments,’ Obi stated.

‘The police are not prepared to look at the judgments and in Calabar, there is a restraining order on the police.

‘What they are trying to do is to instigate crisis so that they can tag is criminals, set the state ablaze and arrest us. The judgement is with us and the directive of a senior police officer is not above that of the Supreme Court,’ he said.

Also speaking, Daniel Mgbe, counsel to IPMAN, said there are Supreme Court and Federal High Court judgments stating clearly who are the rightful occupants of IPMAN offices.

He said these judgments have been executed long ago and wondered how some people just came from nowhere and instigated tension in the state as well as IPMAN.

He said the directive by a senior police officer is unlawful as they have been given superior documents by courts of competent jurisdiction.

Reacting through a telephone interview, the state Police Commissioner, Aminu Alhassan, said: I am aware that by boys are there at IPMAN secretariat. We are obeying a directive asking the Anti Cultism and Kidnapping Squad to seal the office. We are enforcing Supreme Court judgment.

‘The person who won the court matter is to take over and one and will come and take over the state chapter of IPMAN.’

IPMAN has been fictionalised between Chief Obasi Lawson and Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo both from Abia state since 2015 over who is the authentic National President of IPMAN.

The Supreme Court had in a judgment in Suit No SC/15/2018 delivered on December 14, 2018 and its subsequent interpretation by Federal High Court Calabar dated June 19, 2019, recognised automatic succession of the Deputy National President, Alh Sanusi Abdu Fari, as National President of IPMAN, based on 1997 constitution of the association as against one Chinedu Okoronkwo. Fari belongs to Chief Obasi Lawson faction.

Following the judgements, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, had in a letter dated January 4, 2019, and sent to Rivers IPMAN Chairman led by Chief Richard Orianwo, acknowledged and congratulated Alh Sanusi Fari as the President of IPMAN following Supreme Court judgment.

He advised ‘the association and all parties to abide by the Supreme Court and the Federal High Court interpretation on the matter and condemned any acts of contempt of court and the attendant proactive disputes that are escalating tensions and violence in the hist community and thus threatening lives and property by any member or organ of IPMAN.’

The letter was also copied to Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo for attention.

In the same vein, the Hon Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timire Sylva, in a letter dated January 27, 2020, congratulated Engr Sanusi Abdu Fari and promised to work with the new leadership.

The letter read in part: ‘The judgements of the Federal High Court, Calabar dated June 19, 2019, as to the tenure of the erstwhile National Preaident, Chief Obasi Lawson, and the automatic succession of the Deputy National President , Alh Sanusi Abdu Fari, as the National President, is further noted.’

Even the legal department of Inspector-General of Police headed by CP Daso Oruebo had advised police to recognise the leadership of Alh Fari and withdraw from the occupation of 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.

However, DIG Egbunike in a letter addressed to the Commissioner of Police, Department of Finance and Administration, State Command Headquarters, Port Harcourt, and dated July 23, advised the command ‘to give effect to the Supreme Court judgment by ensuring that the parties favoured by the judgment are five areas to IPMAN office and adequate security provided to maintain peace and order.’

A closer look at the letter showed that DIG Egbunike did not mention the beneficiary of the judgment, Alh Sanusi Abdu Fari, as the new National President and other branches chairman in the same league with Fari, thereby creating room for misinterpretation and subsequent confusion.

A member of the Okoronkwo faction who spoke off re independence said: ‘We actually won the case and are determined to take over IPMAN with the help of the police.’

The post Cross River: Police anti-kidnapping squad seal IPMAN office in Calabar, chase off marketers, workers appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

Source: news