Gov Otu attacked for attending inauguration of IPMAN caretaker committee

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By Asare Asare

The inauguration of a caretaker committee for the Independent Petroleum Marketing Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) in Cross River State has further polarised the already beleaguered association in the state.

The Cross River unit of IPMAN has been rocked by legal tussles, Balkanization, and rivalry in the last four years. Now, a faction of the association has drawn a battle line with Governor Bassey, whom it accuses of dabbling in IPMAN’s internal crisis.

On Wednesday, Gov Otu, represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) of Cross River State, Prof Anthony Owan-Enoh, attended the inauguration of Mr Peter Okim as chairman of the IPMAN Caretaker Executive Committee.

Peter Okim, earlier appointed by Gov Otu as chairman of the State Taskforce on Petroleum, had reportedly featured in the erstwhile administration of Prof Ben Ayade in a similar capacity.

IPMAN’s South-South Zonal Chairman, Chief Lawrence Nworu, upon the inauguration of Peter Okim, urged members of the caretaker committee to do everything in their power to bring all members under one umbrella and restore the former glory of the association.

The governor had also assured them of his full cooperation to restore sanity in the association.

But in a lengthy statement, the faction led by Robert Obi, chairman of the Calabar unit of IPMAN, cautioned the governor, asking him not to interfere in the affairs and leadership of IPMAN so as not to aggravate the crisis, which could be inimical to the already existing peace and tranquillity in the depot.

The faction, in its statement, said: “We wonder about the intentions of the government that is supposed to obey and promote the rule of law, disobeying it and pitching tent with a newly created faction.

“And this is a wrong signal. Our expectations of a new government are for them to drive the rule of law and encourage or promote absolute peace in the state.”

The aggrieved IPMAN members advised that the governor should not be seen to be encouraging illegalities or being a party to something that could disintegrate the Association.

They explained that they had earlier visited and briefed the governor on the situation in IPMAN and presented the court papers with the Federal High Court ruling in suit number FHC/CA/FHR/95/2019, which declared Robert Obi as chairman with no reversal by any appellate court.

However, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Emmanuel Ogbeche, said the presence of the state government at the inauguration of Peter Okim Abang was on the basis of recognition of the national leadership of the petroleum marketers and in relation to the Supreme Court ruling of 2018 that recognised the national leadership that supervised Wednesday’s election.

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