The current strike by the Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria (IMAN) in Imo State had a terrible effect on commuters and other road users in the state on Wednesday as all the petrol stations were shut down.
The situation gave an opportunity to black-market sellers who made brisk business by increasing the sale of their product from N200 a litre to N500.
Most of the passengers were stranded on the road as some of them trek to their various destinations. Some vehicles were also seen by our correspondent who went round to monitor the situation in the Owerri metropolis parked in front of the stations in anticipation of sales.
The oil union had embarked on the strike following a court judgement delivered in their favour compelling the state government to pay compensation to a petrol station demolished in Orlu by former governor of the state Rochas Okorocha during his administration.
But the present government who had already appealed the matter had urged the oil marketers to maintain the status quo pending when the matter would be resolved.
Rather than listen to the state government appeal, the marketers asked the state government to obey the earlier court judgement and pay compensation to their members or deal with the strike action.
The State Commissioner for information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, had maintained in a statement that the action was suspicious as the judgement he said was hidden and no dialogue whatsoever was reached with the state government before their strike action.
‘The petroleum marketers have made desperate efforts to hoodwink tanker drivers to stop the supply of petroleum products to the state by midnight of Monday, August 23rd, obviously using the influence of the affected member who was once a tanker driver himself,’ Emelumba said.
‘Why should the marketers succumb to involving the Petroleum and Natural Gas Association of Nigeria (PENGASAN), in a local affair that has nothing to do with that association. This clearly suggests that there are other motives behind the planned strike. The petroleum marketers must therefore be mindful of being dragged into a strike they do not know its full motive.’
According to him, the judgement has already been appealed against by the state government adding that the strike action amounts to self-help, which is totally illegal, by law.
‘Having submitted himself to the rule of law, the affected person ought to wait for the ruling of the higher court before proceeding on any further action. It, therefore, goes without saying that the planned strike action by petroleum marketers in Imo State is prejudicial to the extant case and therefore subjudice,’ he said.
Emelumba added that the strike action is an affront to the law even as he regretted that the timing was wrong.