From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) on Saturday staged a protest against the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Friday Eboka, over his alleged refusal to obey a judgement of the Supreme Court.
The protesters alleged that a 2018 judgement of the Supreme Court had, among other things, granted powers to the association to collect levies from petroleum tankers loading from refineries and tank farms in the country.
They further alleged that instead of the association, the leadership of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) were the ones illegally collecting the levies.
The protesters marched through some major roads in Port Harcourt, before arriving at the State Government House, where they handed over a protest letter to security agents for onward transmission to Governor Nyesom Wike.
Some of their placards read: ‘ CP stop supporting PTD’, ‘CP, obey IGP signal’, ‘PTD, stop collecting IPMAN levy’ and ‘PTD, stop sabotaging Rivers State Government’.
Secretary of Port Harcourt Branch of IPMAN Ozo Ejike, who addressed reporters, accused Eboka of refusing to obey a signal from the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, who allegedly directed him (CP) to recognise only the leadership of Uchenna Okoronkwo.
“It is no news that IPMAN has been bedeviled with protracted that ended up with litigations from the Court of first instance to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in Abuja between Chief Lawson Obasi and Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo,” Ejike said.
“After the tussle, Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo, our national president emerged judgement creditor in all hierarchy of the Court with Chief Lawson Obasi being a gracious loser.”
The national leadership of IPMAN has dissociated itself from the protest by some of its members in Port Harcourt.
IPMAN National President Debo Ahmed, in a statement made available to reporters in Port Harcourt, said promoters of the protest were not real marketers of petroleum products across the state and its environs.
The statement read: “The National Executive Committee (NEC) of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) under the Leadership of Alhaji Debo Ahmed, wish to disassociate ourselves from a proposed protest against the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State and the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) of NUPENG.
“The promoters of this protest are not real marketers of petroleum products across the state and its environs. The security agencies are called upon to arrest and profile them to avoid unnecessary breakdown of law and order.
“The Supreme Court judgement affirmed the 1997 Constitution of IPMAN which remains the operative instrument of the Association.
“We, therefore, pass a vote of confidence on the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State and the PTD – NUPENG of Port Harcourt Zonal Council.
“We appreciate the Hon Commissioner and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Petroleum for their doggedness in ensuring smooth distribution of petroleum products across Rivers State and environs.”
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