The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) in Delta State has threatened to shut down operations following the cancellation of its elections.
Members of the association, who stormed the Headquarters of the State Police Command on Friday, accused the state government of trying to meddle with the polls scheduled for December 1 which happens to be a public holiday.
They occupied the premises of the police command carrying placards with various inscriptions to protest against the incidence.
The oil marketers, however, appealed to the state government to intervene in the matter and demanded that their elections must hold as planned.
They also alleged that the current leadership of IPMAN was not properly representing their interest and also imposing themselves on members of the association.
After about 30 minutes of demonstration, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Zanna Ibrahim, who was casually dressed, perhaps in the spirit of the Salah celebration, came out to address the protesters in company of some police officers.
He advised them to keep their calm and promised to deliver their message to the state governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, as soon as he can.
“I have just met a few members of your leadership and we have spoken at great length on the issues at stake,” Ibrahim said.
“I have always been a part of the process to solve the problem of IPMAN and I want to assure you that I will definitely convey your message to the executive governor of the state.
“This is because if there is a problem, the bulk will shift to the security agencies; so the earlier this is nipped in the bud, the better for the peace and tranquillity that currently exists in the state,” he added.
The aggrieved protesters who appeared unsatisfied with the response of the police commissioner further took their demonstration to the Government House, hoping to get an explanation as to why the elections were canceled.
Spokesman for the group, Esievho Emmanuel, gave a summary of their demand while addressing reporters at the Government House in Asaba, the state capital.
He said: “At the last security meeting with the governor, we were told to prepare for elections today (Friday) but to our greatest surprise, we were also told that the elections have been canceled for reasons not known to us.
“We want to state categorically that if the elections do not hold today, we are going to shut down our operation come Monday, December 4, 2017.”
In a swift reaction, the man in the eye of the storm who is the current IPMAN Chairman in the state, Benjamin Emoefe, denied allegations by the group during a telephone interview with Channels Television.
Emoefe, who explained the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the elections, said: “We are aware that IPMAN is set to hold their elections and that is why we have called them up for a meeting in order to ensure the elections are conducted in a peaceful manner.”
Before the protest, Governor Okowa had made frantic efforts to ensure a peaceful election for the group.
This formed part of the issues discussed at the last State Security Council meeting held at the annex of the Government House in Warri, Delta State.