The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has threatened to withdraw its services in the eastern zone over alleged harassment and intimidation by security operatives.
Bobby Eberechi Dick, chairman, eastern zone, IPMAN, made this known in a statement on Friday.
Dick said the oil marketers had withdrawn their services in private depots located in Rivers state due to the issue.
“The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigerian (IPMAN) Eastern Zone wishes to draw the attention of the federal government to the incessant harassment and intimidation of our members by security agencies,” he said.
“Few days ago, some miscreants who are not members of our association and who do not have even one filling station, secured the services of the Nigerian police, the army, the civil defence, to block the gate of private depots where we load petroleum products in Rivers state, saying every IPMAN member must pay a levy of N15, 000 before our members can load.
“Also, on the claim by one of them, Mr Aliche Oti, that petroleum tanker drivers are holding IPMAN levy, to put the record straight, petroleum tanker drivers don’t collect IPMAN levy, IPMAN staff are deployed to all the depots to do their legitimate work. It is the IPMAN that buys product and hires the services of tanker drivers.”
Dick added that it was found that the alleged intimidation was instigated by the leadership crisis in the association.
“When the report got to the zonal executive council of the eastern zone, investigation was carried out to know where they are deriving their powers from and on what basis. We found out that it was an act of intimidation to force our members to do the wish of their pay masters,” he said.
“IPMAN is a legitimately constituted authority headed by our national president, Ahmed Debo.
“Based on this act of harassment and intimidation, we have withdrawn our services from all the private depots in Rivers State. We are calling on the Federal Government, especially our dogged governor of Rivers state, Chief Nyesom Wike to intervene.
“We know the governor cannot allow anyone to disrupt the good business environment he has created in Rivers state. This will cause a serious scarcity in Rivers state and neighbouring states.
“If this harassment, intimidation and blockage of the depots where we are doing our legitimate business by these hoodlums and hired security agents is not addressed, we will have no other choice than to shut down all stations within the eastern zone.
“We are law abiding citizens. We are guided by the constitution of IPMAN and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. With IPMAN, the distribution of petroleum products within the zone is assured.”
The eastern zone had been battling a leadership crisis, which propelled members to support factional leaders.
Last month, Robert Obi, chairman, Cross River state branch, IPMAN, had insisted that Sanusi Fari was the rightful national president of the association.
He added that the association would shut down depots due to “police harassment”.
Meanwhile, IPMAN had embarked on a warning strike in nine northern states over unpaid N70 billion bridging claims, but called it off after the government intervened.