[From ANIEKAN ANIEKAN, Calabar]
Fuel scarcity is looming in Cross River State over the decision of the Eastern Zone of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria to withdraw its services.
The action by IPMAN follows the incessant harassment of its members in the Eastern Zone by officers of the Nigeria Police Force.
The duration of the strike is uncertain as it emanates from the national president of the association.
In a message made available to newsmen, the national president of the association, Alhaji (Engr.) Sanusi Fari said marketers in the South East and South south are being harassed by the police hence the strike.
According to the president, “The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Eastern Zone wish to state with dismay, the incessant attack by men of Nigeria Police Force at our Secretariats in Port Harcourt, Aba, Calabar, Enugu and Makurdi Depots sequel to this ugly development.
“The NEC of IPMAN has resolved and directed that we should withdraw our services be immediately from all loading depots and if police continue to attack our Secretariats, we will be compelled to withdraw our services from the public”, Alhaji Fari said.
In compliance with the directive, IPMAN in Cross River State have withdrawn their services and stopped loading fuel at fuel depots in Calabar.
A visit to the NNPC depot shows long queues of tankers waiting without loading fuel.
No activity was seen around the massive facility as drivers were seen discussing the strike action in groups.
Mr. Obi, the Chairman of IPMAN in the state confirmed the development and said the strike will go on until their demands are made.
Meanwhile some residents in the city have pleaded with IPMAN and the police authorities to reconsider their action in the interest of the masses.
Cyril Agbor, a civil servant said the strike action is not timely and will aggravate the hardship faced by the people in the state.
He said the country is facing an economic crisis, food crisis and this strike will only compound the woes of the generality the people.
Also speaking, a Keke rider, Mfoniso Ituen said they may likely double their transport fares if the strike goes farther.
He also called on all concerned to show restraint and consider the suffering masses before taking decisions.
He said they are also affected by the harassment by officers of the Nigeria Police Force in the course of their duties and called for restraint.
The Cross River State Police Command has yet to react to the allegations of harassment and extortion by its officials.