Members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Enugu Depot, have shutdown filling stations across Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states over alleged leadership crisis.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that all private filling stations in Awka, Enugu and Ebonyi were still closed to public as at the time of filing this report on Tuesday.
NAN reports that only NNPC mega stations at Amawbia and Enugu in the two states were however, selling petroleum products to customers waiting in long queues.
Meanwhile, some school children and other commuters were seen stranded at various bus stops in Enugu as few commercial vehicles were plying the roads.
A commercial motorist, Nnamdi Offor, told NAN that he was unable to go to work due to the artificial fuel scarcity created by IPMAN over leadership tussle.
Offor said that the other options available to him included buying from the black market or queuing up at the NNPC mega filing station.
He said: “I closed late from work yesterday and hoped to buy petrol this morning only to discover that all filling stations in and around Awka were closed.”
A commuter in Enugu, Gladys Onyia, expressed disappointment at the development adding that there was no warning about the strike.
Onyia said: “I took my children to school in the morning but by the time I could get to my office, there were complaints of fuel scarcity in the state.
“This is a terrible period for such action because of the upcoming elections. How can they be so insensitive to national development?”
It was however, a different situation in Ebonyi state capital, Abakaliki as there was no compliance to the strike directive.
NAN correspondent who monitored the situation said that many filling stations were open and selling petroleum products at government approved rate.
Confirming the shutdown, Chief Cletus Obi-Okafor, the Chairman of Petrol Dealers Association of Nigeria in the state said the action was in compliance with the order of national leadership of IPMAN.
Obi-Okafor said the total shutdown would persist until there was counter directive to members.
He said: “We were directed to close our outlets over a crisis at our Enugu Depot office, the compliance will be total until we get further directive.”
But a top official of IPMAN who craved anonymity told the News Agency of Nigeria that the action was to counter the move by some people to forcefully take over the depot leadership.
The source alleged that some unidentified persons attacked the office of IPMAN in Enugu and beat up their staff.
The official further said the move was not unconnected to the crisis at the national leadership which the court had settled.
He explained that the shutdown was in solidarity with Chief Ikechukwu Nwankwo, Chairman of Enugu in charge of Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states.
The source said IPMAN members in the affected states were protesting unconstitutional removal of Nwankwo as seen in their obedience to the national body to shut operation.
He said: “Yesterday, some people attacked our depot office and beat up our staff. This was in an attempt to illegally change the leadership in the depot.
“Enugu depot has a leadership that is backed by the constitution, the industrial action will continue until the issues are resolved.”
When contacted, Nwankwo said efforts were in top gear to resolve the matter and pleaded for the understanding of customers.
In a reaction to the industrial action, the Department of Petroleum Resources said it did not anticipate the current situation.
Ahmed Gwaram, Head of Operations in the DPR’s office in Enugu said the department was already working to ensure that there was no artificial scarcity and price hike in the sale of the petroleum products as a result of the strike in the state.
Gwaram urged motorists to patronise major marketers and NNPC outlets that are open to business, assuring the public that the DPR would hold a meeting with the IPMAN executive as soon as possible to resolve the current crisis.