Court Urges Nigeria Police to Vacate IPMAN’s Eastern Zonal Office

Court Urges Nigeria Police to Vacate IPMAN’s Eastern Zonal Office
Irene William, Calabar
A Federal High Court has compelled the Nigerian Police Force to vacate the eastern zonal office belonging to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, describing the occupation as illegal and abuse of power.
It could be recalled that sometime last year policemen were deployed from the Cross River State Police Command to take over the secretariat of IPMAN in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, south-south Nigeria, which caused the union to shutdown sales of petroleum products, but for the intervention of Governor Ben Ayade.
The court also ordered the police to vacate the national secretariat of IPMAN in Abuja, other eastern offices located within Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Enugu State.
In a summons filed by Mr. Daniel Mgbe on behalf of the plaintiff, Mr. Sanusi Fari, Mr. Chidi Nnubia, Mr. Peter Okoye and seven others, IPMAN sought for a declaration of the continued siege on its national secretariat and the forceful removal of Sanusi Fari and others as president and executive members on July 5, 2021 by policemen as unlawful, unconstitutional and null and void.
It further sought an order of the court to compel the Nigerian Police to vacate the national secretariat of IPMAN in Abuja for Sanusi Fari’s led executive to re-enter and continue their legitimate functions.
Valid Order
The presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu while delivering judgment on Thursday, April 7, 2022 in Suit No: FH/CA/CS/69/2020 between Sanusi Fari and 9 others versus the Nigerian Police and 20 others, pronounced that the police lacked the powers to forcefully occupy IPMAN offices on the grounds of interpreting a judgment nor carry out execution without valid court order.
Justice Ojukwu further stated, “their occupation of national headquarters or unit offices of IPMAN was not occasioned by the decision of the Supreme Court as that issue was not determined or pronounced upon by the Apex Court.”
The court further held that “in construing Section 4 of the Police Act 2020 and Section 15 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act 2002, the police has no powers to reverse the judgment of this court in Suit No: FHC/CA/CS/2019 and the judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Appeal No: SC/15/2018 or any judgment of a court.”
Reacting, the counsel to IPMAN, Daniel Mgbe said with this judgment, “the legal tussle between factions of the IPMAN has been put to rest as the unlawful eviction of the IPMAN executives by the police in Enugu, Port Harcourt, Aba, Bayelsa, Makurdi and Calabar has been found to have no basis in law.”
Commending the judiciary for its steadfastness, the National President of IPMAN, Mr. Debo Ahmed, who was inaugurated on January 18, 2022, appealed to the police to vacate their offices across the by obeying the court order.
Also speaking, the Cross River State chairman of IPMAN, Mr. Robert Obi, expressed confidence that the ruling would restore peace and sanity in the union and urged its members to embrace peace and effectively collaborate towards the development of the downstream oil sector.
Obi said that the association had been plagued by leadership tussle since 2018, a situation, which factionalized the body and subsequently resulted to a long legal battle spanning more than three years.
He expressed the hope that henceforth members would be guided by the union’s constitution for their benefit and of society in general.

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