The artificial fuel scarcity experienced on Friday in all parts of Imo state seems to have been resolved following the intervention of the Imo State government.
This was after hours of dialogue between the men of the Nigeria Security And Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), members of the Imo state Independent Petroleum Marketers and the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association, Imo State chapter.
The news came as a shock to residents of Imo State as they woke up on Friday morning to discover that petrol stations across the state were under lock and key.
The artificial scarcity was said to have been as a result of the alleged harassment and intimidation of tanker drivers by the NSCDC officials which recently led to the accidental shooting of a tanker driver.
The tanker driver is purportedly lying unconscious at the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Abia state.
Most of the petrol stations visited in the Owerri metropolis were locked, as people were seen gathered at entrances of the petrol stations waiting for positive news.
Commuters were also seen stranded at various bus stops within the city.
It was also gathered that the Independent Petroleum Marketers Of Nigeria Imo state chapter, had gone on strike, as a solidarity protest following the continuous harassment of tanker drivers by the NSCDC officials.
This according to the Chairman of the Independent Marketers Association in the Southeast, Bobby Ebere Chidick, is a regular occurrence.
“This is not the first time this will happen, it’s been happening, intimidation and harassment of our drivers, we had to take this step this time around because it’s pertaining to life and death.
“One of our drivers has been shot by the Civil Defense, he’s lying unconscious at the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia,” he said.
In justifying their actions, he further stressed that “it is a solidarity protest to try to notify the government of the activities of the Civil Defense”.
He said the duty of the NSCDC was to secure pipelines rather than monitoring trucks. He insisted that the matter must be resolved once and for all.
Confirming the incident, the Zonal Coordinator, Zone E of the NSCDC, Ben Dikuro, explained that the it happened accidentally in the course of discharging their primary duties.
He however debunked allegations of intimidation and harassment by his men, saying that the NSCDC will continue to discharge their duties as regards transpiration of petroleum products.
According to him, “we got an intelligence report about illegal diversion of petroleum product around Okigwe axis.
“My men swung into action and in the course of doing their duty, there was a misunderstanding and accidentally a driver was shot in the leg”.
In defense, he explained that it wasn’t intentional, adding that he had sent a team to the hospital to look after him.
Meanwhile, the state government immediately called for a meeting between both parties to resolve the issue and avert any harsh effects it might have on the masses.
The outcome of the meeting with the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Eze Madumere, was however positive as both parties resolved the issues amicably and the petroleum marketers promised to re-open as soon as possible.
“Thank God the Imo state Deputy Governor has intervened, we have been in a meeting since the last 4 hours and we have resolved to reopen our business”
The chairman of the Independent Marketers Association said.