Members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) on Saturday took to the streets over what they called illegal collection of levies by the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).
IPMAN members during the protest on Saturday in Portharcourt, Rivers State capital, moved to the Rivers State Government House, where they handed over a protest letter to the Chief Security Officer for onward transmission to Governor Nyesom Wike.
They alleged that the levies being collected by NUPENG was illegal, given that the Supreme Court judgement, which was delivered in their favour in 2018, empowers IPMAN to collect levies from petroleum tankers loading from refineries and tanks farms in the country.
Secretary of IPMAN, Port Harcourt Depot Unit, Ozor Ejike, who spoke during the protest at the Government House, alleged that the collection of levies was on the directive of Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Friday Ebuka, which he insisted was in disobedience to the Supreme Court judgement.
The protesters, armed with different placards, ‘CP Stop Supporting PTD’, ‘CP, Obey IGP Signal’, ‘PTD, Stop Collecting IPMAn Levy’, ‘PTD, Stop Sabotaging Rivers State Government’, said the one week petroleum products scarcity as a result of their strike was because the PTDs were allegedly running away from paying the mandated levies.
The protesters further accused the CP of refusing to obey a signal from the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, which allegedly directed him to recognize only the leadership of Uchenna Okoronkwo.
Ejike said: “It is no news that IPMAN has been bedeviled with a protracted crisis that ended up with litigation 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.
“After the tussle, Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo, our National President emerged as a judgement creditor in all hierarchy of the Court with Chief Lawson Obasi being a gracious loser.”
According to him, the litigation, which lasted for four years, was delivered in favour of IPMAN across all Courts, adding that they decided to approach the Courts to properly put things together before the government and security agencies.
He lamented that despite IPMAN’s right to collect levies- the trip levies from the PTDs, government and security agencies would always frustrate them.
“The other time we tried to collect the levy, the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTDs) shut down; they will say they have gone on strike and the funny thing is that they have been collecting this same money for years and the criminal part of it is that they refused to issue receipts,” he alleged.