14th February, 2012
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Ilorin Unit, on Monday ordered members to shut their filling stations in protest against the alleged levity with which the prosecution of pipeline vandals was being handled.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that only the NNPC mega station was dispensing fuel to motorists in the metropolis as at noon.
The NNPC mega station on Asa Dam road had a long queue while the other two stations were closed to customers.
Fares had also risen as both taxi and motorcycle operators were charging N70 per drop instead of the normal N50.
Some of the commuters, who spoke with NAN, lamented the hardship as only few taxi cabs and commercial motor bikes were operating due to scarcity of fuel.
Some of the taxi drivers also told NAN that they were caught unawares by the strike.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Bolaji Agbolade, the Chairman of the IPMAN unit, has vowed that the strike would continue until government effected the re-arrest and prosecution of some suspected vandals recently released.
The IPMAN chairman noted that their members were being threatened by the suspected vandals.
“Pipeline vandalism is economic sabotage. When suspected vandals are arrested, they are released by the security agents after a few days.
“About two years ago, they arrested about five people and they were sentenced at the Federal High Court to jail for five years. But about two weeks ago, another court released them.
“IPMAN is maintaining the line from Ibadan to Ilorin. We spend about N5million every month. We have spent about N70 million on this land in the last one year,’’ he said.
He said the association also arrested four pipeline vandals on January 15, adding that an IPMAN member who testified against them in court had abandoned his home due to threats.
The chairman appealed to government at all levels to assist IPMAN in policing the pipelines across the country.
Speaking on the development, the state’s Commissioner for Information, Tunji Moronfoye, told NAN that government was already discussing with the executives of the association with a view to tackling the problem.
He appealed to the association to consider the hardship their action was creating for residents and call off the strike.
Also speaking on the development, a spokesman for the police command, Mr. Stanley Onyewelle, told NAN that IPMAN members were expected to hold a meeting with the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Peter Gana.
He, however, said they failed to show up for the meeting, adding that the case being cited was under the purview of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution for advice.
All efforts to speak with the state’s Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Mr. Kunle Ajibade, proved abortive as he was said to be away for a meeting.