Physical confrontation between the two factions in the independent marketers branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Energy Gas Workers at the Ore Depot in Ondo State has created fears of fuel scarcity in at least seven states.
Our correspondent learnt on Thursday that the crisis started when the tenure of the last executive of the union ended last month and a caretaker committee was put in place to conduct fresh election.
It was learnt that the crisis was sparked off by an alleged plan by some members of the union to change its constitution and make the position of the chairman an exclusive right of members who are indigenes of Ondo State.
A faction of the union, which sealed the NUPENG secretariat located outside the depot on Monday, was alleged to have attacked members said to be in the opposing camp.
It was learnt that many of the union members were afraid to supervise the loading of fuel.
According to sources, the supply of fuel to filling stations had been affected.
The Zonal Vice-Chairman of the union, Mr. Joseph Adisa, told our correspondent that the desire by the indigenes of Ondo State to have the post of the chairman permanently zoned to the state would not succeed.
According to him, members of the union cut across Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Edo and other South-South states.
He said, “Their request is not constitutional and we will not engage in any form of illegality. Everybody has the right to aspire to any office once you are a member regardless of your state of origin.
“Already, there is tension everywhere as the non-indigenes among the members are being attacked with dangerous weapons. Two of our members are currently in hospital as a result of the injuries they sustained during the attack.
“There are fears everywhere and members are afraid to enter into the depot out fear of being attacked.”
The timetable for the conduct of the election, according to Adisa, was rejected by members demanding that the position of the chairman be permanently zoned to Ondo indigenes.
He called on security operatives to investigate the matter with a view to curtailing it before it would escalate.
The union is made up of representatives of oil marketers, who supervise the loading of fuel at the depot.