A non -governmental organisation, Centre for Truth, Justice and Fair Play (CTJFP) has called on the Federal Government and the Nigerian Police to exercise caution in the handling of the case of alleged subsidy scam, involving the Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas Industries, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, and some staff members of the company.
Ubah and some top management of the company were arrested by officials of the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) in Lagos on alleged fraudulent diversion of petroleum product, forgery and economic sabotage.
In a statement at the weekend, signed by the President of CTJFP, Mr. Nathan Ochuko, the group condemned the manner in which the oil guru and some members of his staff were arrested and arraigned before a Lagos magistrate, stating that the development is eliciting concern that their travail may be the “handiwork of powers that be in Nigeria, who have the ulterior motive of bringing down an establishment that has contributed immensely to the economy of Nigeria, through employment creation”.
The group noted that Uba and his team reported to the SFU on their own, following an invitation extended to his office by the police and was not picked up as erroneously reported by national dailies.
Ochuko said: “Uba is a law-abiding citizen. He only returned from a trip that same day and was informed that the SFU invited him and some member staff for questing in respect of subsidy issues. As one who had no skeleton in his cupboard, he went there on his own, but because the police still have some issues to resolve, they decided to go before the court to obtain an order to enable them complete their investigation.
“We all know what the law says, about detaining an accused in a ‘bailable’ offence longer than the 48 hours provided for in the constitution, so I am sure that the police are very much aware of that. So hopefully, he will be granted bail as soon as possible”, he said.
He continued: “It is worthy of note that Capital Oil and Gas, one of the major players in the downstream petroleum sector, has very huge investments in the sector and providing direct and indirect jobs for over 5,000 Nigerians.
“The firm has the biggest state-of-the-art storage depot, with a capacity to hold over 196 million litres of fuel. The depot has a 30-arm loading gantry with a 56 million daily load out capability that can take 1,600 trucks in a day. As I write this release, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is loading products at the company’s depot”.
Capital Oil and Gas also has seven large barges and tug boats and in a deepwater jetty capable of docking four large sea vessels simultaneously. To ease the distribution of fuel to all nooks and crannies of the country, the company had invested in the acquisition of 700 road tanker trucks and also constructed an ultra modern truck park with the capacity to house 1,100 trucks.
The truck park located along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway in Lagos is also to help decongest the traffic created by trucks that queue and park along the expressway awaiting their turn to be served products at the depots.
Uba’s achievements in so short a period has stunned even fellow competitors in the industry who have marveled at his vision and the courage at daring to risk committing such huge funds into a business whose profit and loss margins is to a very large extent dependent on the government.
Today, the facilities of Capital Oil are being used to receive and discharge products on behalf of the government, the NNPC, and other operators under a ‘throughput’ deal where a certain percentage is paid to facility owner.
The group said while it was not against the probe of alleged infractions in the subsidy management, it insisted that such a process should be done in a lawful manner.
“From the look of things, it appears that these agents of the government are only interested in persecuting people who are not their close allies. It is also noteworthy that the MD of Capital Oil and Gas is the only reputable firm, fingered in the alleged subsidy issue that has been taken to court.
“Managing Directors of other prominent companies recommended for criminal investigation by the Aig-Imoukhuede led committee and their staff are going about freely, even when some of them are believed to have worse cases. We need to point out that the ongoing trial of Tukur’s son was only aimed to score a political goal. But for the petition by the Chairman of Coscharis, Uba will react to all those allegations in due course.
“Nigerians are watching the events unfolding in the oil industry in recent times. There was an attempt to rope in a former Minister and Chairman of Integrated Oil, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho to petrol theft. Today, the staff members of the said company are facing trial.
“Now, it is Capital Oil, also a company owned by somebody from the eastern part f the company. Is this a ploy to stop indigenes of the eastern that have huge investments in the downstream sector? Nigerians and the international community are watching”, Ochuko added.
The organisation therefore urged that the matter be given accelerated attention, with a view to ensuring immediate release of Uba and his staff. While noting that the alleged offence for which for which Uba and his team are being held is ‘bailable’, the CTJFP called for their unconditional release, adding that anything short of that amounts to persecution.