By Magnus Effiong
Crisis is brewing at the NNPC depot, Esuk Utan axis of Calabar as gun-trotting security agents, under the Anti Cultism squad of the police, stormed and locked up the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) office located in the area.
The stern-looking security agents ordered Journalists to leave the area and threatened to shoot whosoever would disobey their order to disperse.
Placards carrying IPMAN members, under the aegis of Cross River Indigenous Depot Workers (CRIDWA) had gathered at the depot to protest what they said was an imposition of a non-Cross Riverians on the association. They accused the Police of playing to the gallery.
Some of the placards read: ‘Edet leave us alone,’ ‘Commissioner of Police, leave us alone,’ ‘Police, stop this pervasive oppression in our depot,’ ‘Police, obey the rule of law,’ amongst many others, and accused a police top officer of ordering the Commissioner of Police to take over IPMAN office against the judgment of both the Supreme Court and the Federal High Court.
In an interview with Journalists, Counsel to the protesting IPMAN members, Daniel Mgbe, said “we are calling on the Inspector-General of Police to call his Deputy to order, and he should advise him to reverse the unlawful directives he dished out to the Commissioner of Police in Cross River to evict the lawful occupants of the IPMAN office in Calabar.
“The directives is likely to cause tension in Calabar and other cities. Right now the matter is in court and we expected that the Commissioner of Police, realizing that the matter is in court, should have stayed action on the said directives.”
Reacting to the invasion, the Senior Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade on Petroleum Monitoring, Peter Okim Abang, who was on ground to monitor the situation, said the people do not want a non -indigene as Calabar depot chairman, and warned against the breakdown of law and order.
“What the Police is doing is to create room for anarchy. You can see how tense the situation is and the boys are coming out, and there is the likelihood that they could come out in their numbers. I appeal to the Police authorities to put an end to this show of power.”
In his remarks, Calabar depot IPMAN Chairman, Robert Obi, explained that after Chief Obasi Lawson’s tenure expired as IPMAN national Chairman, the Supreme Court gave judgment saying the IPMAN constitution, particularly Article 4, be invoked to determine Lawson’s successor
“What we are protesting against today is the order from a Police DIG in Abuja, who set up a team of officers loyal to him and ordering them to terrorise and invade IPMAN offices and in the process dethrone constituted leadership. This is even against the Supreme Court and High Court judgments,” he stated.
Our reporter gathered that the IPMAN leadership tussle is between the Alhaji Sanusi Fari/ Chief Obasi Lawson faction and that of Chinedu Okoronkwo.
It was learnt further that 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, who was Lawson deputy, as National President of IPMAN based on 1997 constitution of the association.