·         Uzodinma Blame Okorocha for hardship

·         OCDA sends shop owners packing 

The Imo state chapter of Petroleum Marketers Association yesterday embarked on strike action over the refusal of Imo state government to pay compensation to one of their members whose filling station was demolished by the Rochas Okorocha administration.

Our roving reporter who toured major streets in Owerri yesterday observed that fuel was sold  between #500 to #700 per litter while reports gathered from residents of other local government areas said they bought between  #350 to #500.

From all indications, the situation may be worse if nothing is done today to assuage the petroleum marketers who claim that the government refusal to pay is clear disobedience to court judgment. 

Some of the black market fuel sellers who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity  disclosed that they went to neighbouring states of Imo to buy fuel, hence they added money to the cost price to recoup what they spent on transportation etc. 

Meanwhile, the Imo state government, in a swift reaction  accused the former governor of Imo State, Senator  Rochas Okorocha of being behind the impasse between Imo government and Petroleum Marketers Association .

The government in a release signed by   the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba and made available to newsmen on Tuesday stated that, “Imo State Government is aware of the plan by petroleum marketers in the state to embark upon a strike action from tomorrow, Tuesday, August 24, 2021. 

“Their grouse is an alleged refusal of the state government to obey a court judgment on payment of compensation to their member whose filling station at Orlu was demolished by the Rochas Okorocha’s administration.

“However, the Government has reasons to believe that there is more to the planned strike than meets the eye. First the judgment itself was hidden from the current administration and no effort was made to dialogue with the government by the aggrieved members. Inspite of this, when the government got to know out about the judgment, it responded appropriately as a law abiding government by proceeding on appeal.”

“Secondly and curiously, 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. Why should the marketers succumb to involving  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.

“Aince the matter is still in court, it amounts to self help for petroleum marketers to embark on a strike which in the eyes of the law is totally illegal.  

“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.

“Government is not unmindful of the consequential effects of such an illegal action on the state economy and on innocent residents of the state.

“However, as a law abiding Government, this administration is assuring the petroleum marketers that it will abide by any decision of the highest court when the matter is fully determined.

Since the affected owner of the demolished filling station is yet to exhaust all legal options available and since there exists a pendency of appeal on the matter, any strike in whatever form and by whosoever named remains illegal and will be treated as such

Finally, Government hereby advises those planning the strike to respect the law in the interest of peace and economic well being of the people”.

Reacting to the government press statement in a phone conversation , the Special Adviser to Senator Rochas Okorocha on Media, Hon Sam Onwuemdo said that government is a continuum, adding that since Okorocha is no longer a governor, it is expected of the current governor not to always blame his predecessors for his failure to do the needful.

Onwumedo further stated that Uzodinma is not diplomatic enough to negotiate with labour leaders which is why there is always problem in the state. He averred that under Rochas, the strike action wouldn’t have gone on.

In a similar development, the staff of  Owerri Capital development, OCDA were sighted in various locations, including new Owerri axis demolishing people’s shops which they claim were shanties.

The development is said to have worsened the situation of the affected persons and family members.

Many who spoke to this reporter said that the demolition of people’s shops is ill-timed considering the hunger in the state, occasioned by insecurity and poor management of public funds by those in government.