BY: Nick Nwaneri, Calabar
Cross River state Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), has issued a warning calling on the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to desist from further interference in its affairs in the state.
It would be recalled that the Supreme Court of Nigeria had since settled all disputes surrounding the leadership of IPMAN in Nigeria.
The factional Executive of IPMAN in Cross River State led by, Mr. Robert Obi was last month sacked in the state as the Nigerian Police moved to enforce a 2018 Supreme Court judgment.
Accordingly the IPMAN executive led by Mr. Edet Umana which has since assumed office, said “the Supreme Court and Attorney-General of the Federation and the IG of Police pronounced the matter so why is Cross River State Attorney General interfering in what does not concern him?”
“We want him to change his ways and steer clear and let him allow us to function as this is not the work of Cross River State but that of IPMAN. Our union is National and not State and the decision was made by the National President relying on the law and that is final. He is sending a letter to the State Commissioner of Police to withdraw the police from our office which is wrong and counterproductive. I am not sure the governor is aware of this development. I have resumed office and they should allow peace to reign”.
IPMAN , he added, is not a state or Federal agency, it’s a National union. So I need the public to ignore what anybody says as we are on ground and ready to work in Cross River State. We will sanction erring members of the union and we want the public to know that what the Attorney-General did in Cross River State was so wrong. It is safe to say that the crisis of IPMAN in Cross River State is resolved so anybody who still has an issue is on his own. So all the letters by the Attorney-General of the Federation and the IG are all based on the judgment of the Supreme Court”.
“The Supreme Court judgment had declared the executive of the National President of IPMAN, Chief Chinedu Okoronkwo and his state executives as the authentic leadership of IPMAN in Nigeria by law but this was resisted by the faction led by Chief Obasi Lawson at the national level and Mr. Robert Obi at the state level claiming that the Supreme Court judgement and the interpretation by the Federal High Court, Calabar was in their favour and it was wrong for the Police to sack them from office.”
However, the Legal Adviser to the sacked factional IPMAN, Mr. Daniel Mgbe, had in a report said that there is a Supreme Court and Federal High Court judgements stating clearly who the rightful occupants of IPMAN offices are and the judgements have long been executed in their favour.
” Acting on the Supreme Court judgment, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Inspector General of Police (IG) pronouncement, the State Police Command last month moved in and sacked the Obi led factional executive and Umana led executive was allowed to move in and take over the IPMAN Secretariat at Esuk Utan in Calabar.
The Police in a letter signed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Force Criminal Investigations Department, Force Headquarters, Mr. Joe Egbunike, to the Commissioner of Police, Department of Finance and Administration, State Command Headquarters Portharcourt, Rivers State, said with letters received from the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (Appendix ‘A’), and the Inspector-General of Police’s subsequent directive to all States Commissioners of Police for compliance as regards the “Notification of Supreme Court Judgment on Chief Lawson Obasi & Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo & Ors In Suit No. SC/15/2018”, “you are to give effect to the Supreme Court judgment by ensuring that the parties favoured by the judgment are given access to IPMAN Office and adequate security provided to maintain peace and order, please”
But despite these directives and pronouncements, the State Attorney General Mr. Tanko Ashang had written to the State Commissioner of Police seeking the withdrawal of the Police at the IPMAN office in Calabar and the discontinuance of the criminal case instituted by the Inspector General of Police against Obi and six others, saying, “in exercise of the powers conferred on me and by virtue of paragraph (c) of Sub-section (1) of Section 211(1)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), and Section 106(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law No. 16, of Cross River State 2016, and of all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I, Tanko Ashang,ESQ. Attorney-General of Cross River State hereby discontinue the criminal proceedings against the defendants, in the above mentioned charge”.
Equally reacting, the State Secretary of IPMAN, Dr. Ikechukwu Johnson Uwazie said, “we believe that when there is crack, everybody has to fall back and listen to the law of the land and to the best of my knowledge, there is only one Supreme Court in Nigeria and I cannot believe the Supreme court would pass judgment and someone had the audacity to come out to the media claiming that he is a factional Chairman, not knowing that he is indicting himself more by saying that the Supreme court told them to go to lower court to interpret their judgement. I want to emphasize emphatically that the Supreme Court gave judgement in our favour in 2018 and on February 6th 2019, the Supreme court clearly published in the law book that the winner and authentic president of IPMAN is Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo and since that 2019,
“I want to use this medium to warn such persons that the Supreme Court never told them to go to lower court to interpret their judgment which can never happen in Nigeria. Even in Cross River State, what affirmed the sitting governor was the Supreme Court, in Zamfara state it was the same thing and in other states, the Supreme Court gives judgment and I have never seen anywhere they say a lower court should interpret it.
“So I want to use this medium to call on all our marketers that the matter is over and now in Nigeria, we have one IPMAN under the leadership of Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo. I am also telling people that this is a business we are all involved in and if you come in, nobody will throw you out because now we are all in one party and we have a focus and an idea” .