By Umar Hunkuyi
The Supreme Court has finally brought to an end the leadership crises bedeviling the Independent National Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria IPMAN on Friday 14 December 2018 when it finally affirmed the leadership of Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo as the chairman. The court also ruled that he be paid N2m damages by Obasi Lawson for the displacement he caused him throughout the court sessions he had attended on the matter since he challenged his election.
Addressing newsmen on the matter, Okoronkwo described the former leader of the association as flouting the orders of the court by refusing to accept him as the chairman of IPMAN.
He further explained that he was elected chairman of the association on 10th of May 2014 but was sued to court by Obasi who wanted the court to declare him as leader of the association without any justifiable reason and the court finally decided against him.
Earlier, the Federal Appeal Court confirmed the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja in a judgment with suit number FCT/HC/1479/2016 delivered on 28th of May 2014 declaring Okoronko as the elected leader of the association.
Lawson was the first to rush to court after being elected seeking the court to enforce his chairmanship on a three years term and the court at that time judged in his favor. The constitution was amended subsequently during the reign of Aminu Abdulqadir and the term in office was changed to five years. Lawson then came up insisting that he wants the court to allow him complete another period of two years to make his term in office five as well. He then sued the leadership to court but the judgment came against him confirming Okoronkwo who contested against him as chairman for which he appealed further at the Federal Appeal Court in Port Harcourt. He also lost the case at that level for which he went to the apex court.
A past leader of the association Sharif Abubakar Usmaniyya gave more light on the leadership style of the association saying it operates on a North, South and West regional basis, with each region producing a leader after the other. “The Northern region is split into two, North West and North East due to its size when compared to the other regions making four regions. These are the regions from which leaders of the association are elected” he said.
Chinedu Okoronkwo is the chairman of IPMAN but is being opposed by Obasi Lawson who is also from the same region and from the same town with him called Arochukwu. In the meantime, Okoronkwo’s term in office will finish by March 2019 from which the leadership will return to the north region.
Okoronkwo has expressed satisfaction with the verdict of the Supreme Court on Friday. He explained that the truth is clear and the case is simple without complications. He called on members of the association to put their heads together and set aside all differences in order for the association to foster forward. “We are all brothers because we belong to the same trade and we must unite to help one another” he said.