** Delta State Government Denies Accusation
Independent Petroleum Marketers Association, (IPMAN), Delta State chapter last week Friday staged a mass protest accusing governor Ifeanyi Okowa of causing rancour in the Association following his personal interest leading to the sudden postponement of the Association election billed.
The protesting IPMAN members who stormed the state police command in Asaba to register their grievances over the postponement of their election also took their grievances to government house, Asaba accusing the present executives of IPMAN in the state to continue to hold on to power when their tenure has since elapsed.
The Association also accused the National Union of Petroleum And Natural Gas, (NUPENG) and the Police hierarchy of scuttling the IPMAN election, saying that NUPENG and the police were working together with the Exco of Mr. Benjamin Omoefe to thwart the efforts of IPMAN and perpetuate the out gone Exco in power.
According to the Association any attempt to manipulate the system and elongate the Omoefe’s executive, the Association shall have no option than to shut down all fuel depots across the state.
Addressing IPMAN members at the Government House gate in Asaba, one of the leaders of the protesters, John Kejeocha, siad that the tenure of the Exco led by Benjamin Omoefe (AKA) Ben Jones ended since last month and members were mobilized for the election and only to be told that the election had been postponed.
“Our leniency and subservience to the law has made us look stupid. We have come to Asaba on several occasions to discuss the issues of election. Election is sacrosanct based on our constitution. The election ought to have been held on November 20, 2017. We are taking our destinies into our own hands.
“If there is no election, no depot will function and filling stations across the state will also be shut down. We are also disappointment in the police for refusing to give reasons for the postponement when we took our protest to the state police headquarters in Asaba. Members have been waiting patiently for the expiration of the Exco tenure and it has expired.” Kejeocha said.
Speaking in the same vein, a member of the Association, Okiemute Okwagbe berated the outgoing Exco for enslaving other members of the association, revealing that Exco members only served themselves through out their tenure. “some of the Exco members get as much as thirty tankers load of petroleum products in a week while many members have none. We have been waiting patiently for the end of their tenure and now it has expired.”
Meanwhile, Delta state government has denied the accusation that it was playing a vested interest role in the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), thereby resulting to election stalemate.
Addressing a press conference Monday in Asaba, the Delta State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Peter Mrakpor, stated that it was necessary to put the record straight because of different stories that had been going on, reiterating that the Delta State Government has no preferred candidate.
According to him, the State Government was not conducting any union election or had any plan of such, stressing that the Government role, based on IPMAN appeal, was to assist in creating an enabling environment.
“I was nominated to represent the government in the committee that has two members from the Ben Jones faction (the incumbent Chairman) and the Zino faction, and at the end of the Security Council meeting, the committee met in its inaugural meeting at Government Asaba and resolved that on Wednesday, 23rd November, 2017 another meeting will be held at Government House Annex, Warri, to have the verification execise.”
He further stated that after the Delta State Security Council met with the two factions of IPMAN, Warri Depot Unit, it was agreed that Delta State Government should assist by creating an enabling environment for the body to have an election on December 1, 2017.
Giving reasons for the postponement of tge Association election, the Commissioner stated that by the 22nd November, 2017, the Ben Jones faction pulled out of the exercise, adding that on 23rd November, 2017, the Zino faction went to a Federal High Court in Warri in suit No HFAC/WRCR 11 2017, where they sued the current chairman and the Honourable Attorney-General of Delta State as the 7th Defendant.
“As one party has pulled out and the second gone to court, the State Security Council met and decided that it was best to put the election on hold pending when the matters in court are resolved. Until the parties have their issues resolved it is not safe to have an election in an atmosphere of acrimony”, the Attorney-General stated.