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Court orders IPMAN factional president to reply in contempt proceedings

An Abuja High Court, on Monday, ordered the factional president of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Chief Lawson Obasi to reply to a contempt suit filed before the court.

When the matter came up Monday, the trial Judge, Justice Valentine Ashi directed Obasi, whose counsel was not in court, to file his reply within seven days.

The Chinedu Okoronkwo-led executive of IPMAN, through its counsel, Karina Tunyan (SAN) filed a preliminary objection challenging the contempt proceedings instituted against it by Obasi.

The leadership crisis worsened after the court, in 2014, recognized the Chinedu Okoronkwo-led executive of the association and restrained Obasi from interfering in its activities.

A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had in 2013 declared Obasi as the chairman of the board of Registered Trustees of IPMAN following his successful application challenging the tenure of Abdulkadir Aminu and other members of his executive.

But Justice Ashi upheld the submission of Okoronkwo that the IPMAN executive committee, being the main organ of the association, is distinct from the Registered Trustees.

Consequently, Obasi appealed the judgment at the Appeal Court in Abuja, filed for committal proceedings against Okoronkwo alleging violation of another order by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.

Further hearing in the matter has been fixed for January 24, 2017.

IPMAN has been going through a leadership tussle and as a result of the crisis, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) sometime ago shut down NIPCO, a subsidiary of IPMAN, leading to total paralysis of commercial activities and threatened distribution of petroleum products across the country.