Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah’s Arbitrary Arrest: DSS Is Criminalizing Commercial Dispute – Capital Oil

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IFEANYI UBAH'S PERSECUTION: Capital Oil accuses DSS of criminalizing commercial dispute
The management of Cap­ital Oil and Gas Indus­tries Limited has accused the Department of State Services (DSS) of trying to crim­inalize a commercial dispute be­tween it and the Nigerian Nation­al Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) – with the arrest and detention of its Chairman, Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah.
Capital Oil highlighted the var­ious transactions it had with the
 NNPC for which the corporation was yet to pay it N16 billion.
It has brought to the fore Dr Ubah’s ordeal in the hands of the DSS and the failure of the agency to honour the truce terms it entered with Ubah.
In a statement issued on Mon­day, the company described Ubah’s detention as unlawful and a breach of his fundamental human rights.

Last Saturday, the DSS, in a statement, said that it had arrest­ed Chief Ubah over the disappear­ance of Premium Motor Spirit (pet­rol) worth N11 billion stored in the facilities of Capital Oil.
But yesterday, the company said that what took place was a business transaction, adding that the NNPC owes it about N16 bil­lion.
The statement read: “The in­carceration of our Chairman by the DSS is unlawful, a disregard for the rule of law and a breach of Dr. Ubah’s fundamental rights to liberty, freedom of movement and association.”
“A similar invitation was ex­tended to Dr. Ubah on the 24th of March, 2017, which he honoured as a law-abiding citizen only to be detained in DSS offices in Abuja for almost a month. During that peri­od, a fundamental rights enforce­ment application was brought on behalf of Dr. Ubah at the Feder­al High Court, Lagos as Suit No. FHC/L/C/487/2017.”
“Although an order was made for his production in court in that action, rather than obey the or­der, the DSS, using a combina­tion of coercion and cajoling, con­strained him to discontinue that action upon an understanding that he would be immediately re­leased. He was not released until over two weeks after he had com­plied and completely discontinued that action”.
The management also ex­plained Ubah’s release on April 13, 2017.
According to the statement, “it was now discovered that during his incarceration he had been coerced into executing various documents committing the company to make certain payments and pledge some assets to NNPC Retail Limited. He was also made to execute a docu­ment in favour of the Asset Man­agement Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).”
“As soon as his doctors were permitted access to him, an action was brought at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court seeking, inter alia, an order to restrain the DSS and others from further invit­ing, arresting or threatening to ar­rest or detain him in regard to the NNPC/NNPC Retail Ltd matters.”
“The processes originating the new action filed as Suit No. FHC/L/CS/644/2017 were served on the DSS on April 28, 2017. Dr Ubah’s lawyers wrote to the DSS pointing out that any pre-emption of the ju­dicial intervention during the pen­dency of the new action is totally irregular, a disregard of the rule of law, the constitutional guarantees of separation of powers and breach of the doctrine of Lis Pendens.”
“Rather than respect its con­stitutional and statutory limits, the DSS has brazenly abducted Dr. Ubah and commenced a me­dia blitz to justify their illegality”.
Capital Oil gave a breakdown of NNPC’s indebtedness to it as fol­lows:
• $5,540,000 (N2.2 billion) – unpaid berthing fees for NNPC vessels that called at our jetty;
• $2,952,555 (N1 billion) – invoice for chartered vessels to carry out STS operations Lagos offshore to ferry product (PMS) to storage at the request of NNPC since 2015;
• N1.170 billion – amount owed to Capital Oil & Gas Indus­tries Limited for throughput ser­vices from March to October 2016;
• N3.146 billion – pay­ment made to NNPC for 26,820 million litres of PMS vide pro-for­ma invoice No. 53598 which is yet to be delivered to us;
• N2.0 billion – payment to NNPC in April to facilitate the release of the Managing Director and engender reconciliation which NNPC reneged on; and
• N6.266 billion – N0.80k and N0.40 Jetty Throughput charge on over seven billion litres dis­pensed for NNPC by Capital Oil.
The company also debunked the allegation of economic sab­otage levelled against Dr. Ubah, pointing out that its Chairman has over time intervened at critical mo­ments when the effective and effi­cient distribution of petroleum products was threatened.
“It is unimaginable that a com­pany which has stood by NNPC and by extension the country at very critical petroleum supply cri­ses can now be accused of engag­ing in activities to undermine the effective distribution of petroleum products across the country, hav­ing thwarted a nationwide indus­trial action called by oil market­ers during the epic inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
“We wish to reiterate that Cap­ital Oil and Gas Industries Limited is committed to serving the nation to the best of its capacity and abili­ty,” the Management added.
Meanwhile, the National Un­ion of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has called on the Federal Government to use di­alogue to resolve the lingering im­passe between the management of Capital Oil and the DSS over the issue.
The union stated that workers have the right to protest the non-payment of their salaries and al­lowances and that the Federal Gov­ernment should secure the jobs of those working in the sector.
NUPENG, in a statement signed by its President, Mr. Igwe Achese, stressed that although it does not support the alleged ille­gal diversion and sale of petrole­um products, it was of the opinion that the Federal Government could not sit still and watch workers lose their jobs.
The union also made reference to the case of Seawolf Oil Services that was taken over by AMCON in which it lamented that the work­ers were yet to be paid their back­log of salaries and entitlements for over five years.
“NUPENG believes that the job creation mantra of the govern­ment should be allowed to play, rather than paving way for job loss­es as it is the case of the current clo­sure of Capital Oil,” he said.
Achese therefore asked the government to allow the 2,000 workers to resume work at the de­pot and load products so that their salaries can be paid, “instead of throwing them into the unemploy­ment market for no fault of theirs.”
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