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Group protests industrial action by petroleum dealers in S’ East

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An Igbo socio-political group, Ndi-Igbo United Forum (NUF), yesterday, protested extension of the industrial action by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Imo State chapter, to other states in the Southeast region.

Deploring the development, NUF said the Nigerian culture of rushing to subject innocent and poor masses to undue hardships a very bad trend that must be resisted by all persons of conscience.

IPMAN had, since last week, shut down the supply of petroleum products in Imo State. The bone of contention was the inability of the state government to settle the sum of N100 million awarded as damages by the court to an IPMAN member for the alleged illegal demolition of his property by the government.

The demolition was said to have occurred during the Rochas Okorocha administration in the state.

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While Imo was still contending with the development, petrol stations in other states in the zone, on Friday, suddenly embarked on a sympathy strike action.

While most fuel stations sealed up their premises, refusing to sell products to consumers, others, who agreed to sell, increased their pump price from N163 to N190 and N200 per litre.

Lamenting the situation, NUF, in a statement, said IPMAN’s industrial actions in Imo State, may somehow be justified. It, nevertheless, regretted that the innocent masses were the ones bearing the brunt of the action.

NUF Board of Trustees (BOT) Chairman, Chief Chinedu Mba, who signed the statement, said the group was transfixed with shock that a misunderstanding in Imo was causing pain to hapless consumers in Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi and Abia States, resulting in panic buying and hike in prices.

He said: “Granted that Imo State has some outstanding issues with IPMAN, but certainly, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu States, are completely unconnected to the issue, and as such, should not be dragged into the matter.

“IPMAN in the South East must, as a matter of urgency, reconsider and shelve any, and all plans of extending their Imo issues to other Igbo states. What they should be focusing on is any practical and effective means of resolving their issue with Imo State, and not making very unpopular moves to escalate it.

“NUF is vigorously protesting any such plans of extending the strike action beyond Imo State. We call for restraints and a quick reversal to the status quo ante, in respect to the distribution of petroleum products in the South East region, particularly Enugu State.”

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