Dozens of armed policemen from the Anti-Cultism and Kidnapping (Dragon Squad) yesterday in Calabar, capital of Cross River State invaded the secretariat of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), chasing away officials of IPMAN and sealed up the office.
One of the armed policemen who spoke (name withheld) told LEADERSHIP that they are acting on instructions from the state police commissioner, Mr Aminu Alhassan.
The policemen stationed themselves within IPMAN’s secretariat located in Calabar Depot, chased away marketers and prevented the employees from gaining access to the secretariat.
The aggrieved IPMAN members of staff took to the streets of Esukutan tank farm protesting the police action with placards with several inscriptions like “police leave us alone, this is not Sambisa forest,” “Go to Sambisa forest and contend with bandits, we are harmless civilians”.
In a brief interaction with journalists on the issue, IPMAN’s chairman (Cross River State branch) Mr Robert Obi, who condemned the action of the police, stated that what the armed policemen are doing is trying to instigate crisis in the community in a manner that could set the state ablaze.
Obi who urged petroleum association members to be calm said, “The police barricaded my office as you can see. With all the court judgements available, they are disobeying these judgements. The police are not prepared to look at the judgements and in Calabar there is a restraining order on the police.
“What they are trying to do is to instigate the crisis so that they can tag us as criminals, set the state ablaze and arrest us.
“The case is with us and the directive of a senior police officer is not above that of the Supreme Court,” he said.
IPMAN’s legal adviser in the state, Mr Daniel Mgbe, called for caution on the side of the armed policemen stressing that there is a Supreme Court and Federal High Court judgements, which state clearly who the rightful occupants of IPMAN office are.
In a swift reaction, the police commissioner said he issued the directive to ensure law and order.
Findings by LEADERSHIP revealed that since 2015 IPMAN had been factionalised between Chief Obasi Lawson and Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo both from Abia State over who is the authentic national president of IPMAN.