Andy Esiet, Calabar
IPMAN National President, Chief Chinedu Okoronkwo
The factional Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) in Cross River state, Chief Edet Umana has threatened to drag the association’s National President, Chief Chinedu Okoronkwo to court as IPMAN splits into three factions in the state .
Already fears are rife as petroleum consumers in the state and some parts of Northern Nigeria may soon face serious fuel crisis as the three Chairmen are laying claims to the leadership of IPMAN in the state .
Calabar depot is a major source of petroleum products supply to the state and most parts of North Central and North East of the country.
For quite some time now IPMAN in the state has been in crisis resulting in several court cases and claims which Comrade Robert Obi reigned as state chairman but was sacked and in a letter dated June 21st, 2018 by the National Executive Committee (NEC) signed by its President, Chief Chinedu Okoronkwo, approved the re-constitution of the IPMAN Calabar Depot Executive with Chief Edet Umana as Chairman pending when election will be conducted in line with the 2009 IPMAN constitution as amended.
On July 12, 2023 the NEC of IPMAN with the support of its National President inaugurated a 19 member caretaker executive committee in the state led by Mr. Peter Abang to oversee the affairs of the association in Cross River State, pending when elections will be conducted thus sacking both Obi and Umana. The South South Zonal chairman of IPMAN, Chief Lawrence Nworu performed the inauguration of the new executives. Despite this, Obi and Umana have continued to lay claims to the office of Chairman.
The NEC had in a letter dated June 7, 2023 signed by Okoronkwo and the National Secretary, Alhaji Umar Aliyu approved the appointment of Abang and others as the Chairman, Caretaker Committee and members of the IPMAN Calabar Depot pending when election will be conducted line with the 2009 IPMAN Constitution as amended.
The reads, “you are to liaise with relevant Agencies to ensure availability of Products and other necessary collaborations that can make the Committee perform effectively.
“You are also, by this Letter, mandated to recover all IPMAN Properties currently in the possession of the former Committee Chairman, Elder Edet Clement Umana while liaising with the Zonal Chairman to call for AGM in respect of the Depot election within the IPMAN Constitution’s stipulated time. You are to adhere strictly to the IPMAN Constitution and maintain respect to the hierarchy of IPMAN as enshrined in our Constitution”.
Reacting, Umana in a briefing with some newsmen in Calabar on Saturday said, “he (Okoronkwo) is a National President but what he did is not the proper way in the constitution. He is supposed to write officially to withdraw me but he did not. From 2018, I was given a letter but for two years I have done nothing because I have been in court representing him, spending my money. What he did is not proper. Right now, there are cases in court and it is until the court terminates that I will know my fate.
“Robert Obi took me to court since 2018 till date but right now, I am the one trying to make the court understand the area my national president comes in. I am going to court with him because I want my members to know that I am still the chairman for now, nobody has removed me. My members have benefited nothing from me because there is nothing as I have been in court and been unable to perform my duties.
“The court needs to pronounce the particular person who is going to be the chairman in this issue because what is happening right now is that my national president made a wrong move he should not have, thereby causing enemity in my own camp. I am going to secure an injunction restricting others from parading themselves as chairman” .
Similarly, Obi in a media statement on Friday insisted that he was still in charge of IPMAN in the state saying the so called inauguration of Abang as IPMAN chairman in the state “is totally illegal and against the spirit of Supreme Court judgement that recognised Obi-led faction”.
The new Chairman, Abang has however advísed IPMAN members to disregard Obi’s claim as far as the position of lPMAN chairmanship is concerned, saying, “I am using this medium to ask Obi and his cohorts to produce documents that made him a substantive IPMAN chairman. He should tell us who his national president is. If he can’t tell us who his national president is, then he should stop masquerading as IPMAN chairman in Cross River State, so that his action won’t be tantamount to breakdown of law and order” .
Abang said he remains the authentic chairman of IPMAN until election is conducted for a substantive to emerge insisting, “we can’t continue to run the association on the premise of caretaker committee. There must be an election to put an end to this illegality…in the letter that Obi and his faction has bears no name of who their national president is, then he should stop parading himself as leader of the association exco so as not to cause breakdown of law and order.
At the inauguration ceremony, the South South Zonal Chairman of IPMAN, urged members of the new executive to do everything in their power to bring all members under one umbrella and to return the association to its former glory and not to follow the footsteps of the past executive.
The Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Anthony Owan-Enoh who was at the ceremony, described the association as a critical player in the petroleum sector, noting that such a partnership would go a long way in solidifying the relationship between the government and the private sector.