Two Nigerian businessmen, Alhaji Sabo Harun and Mr. Raph Oragwu of Raph Enterprises Limited have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and his Chadian counterpart, Idris Deby Ento, to approve the payment of compensation to their company for the loss suffered over a 14-year-old period in a botched haulage deal brokered by officials of the two countries.
Speaking with THISDAY in Lagos monday and brandishing volumes of weather beaten documents, Haruna said: “We have waited 14 years for justice to be done and for us to be compensated for the huge loss we have suffered in the hands of Chadians in which we lost two lives and a total of 62 trucks in a haulage deal introduced to us in 2002 by officials of the Nigerian Embassy in Ndjamena, Chad.”
Narrating his 14-year ordeal, Haruna said: “In July 2002, one of our associates, who is now a commissioner in Borno State, Mohammed Dili, was contacted by Mr. Hamza Agballabor, first counselor minister in the Nigerian Embassy in Chad through Mohammed Bashir who invited the Ralph Group to Chad for a possible business deal. The deal in question was a World Bank project which involved the haulage of crude oil pipeline materials from the port of Douala, Cameroun to the newly discovered oilfields in Southern Chad.
“Dili reportedly contacted Ralph and I in Lagos and between us, it was unanimously agreed that Ralph Enterprises Limited be used as the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the transaction.
“The group then travelled from Maiduguri to N’djamena, and was received at the Chad-Camerounian border by representatives of TRANS–REGIONALES S.A, a Chadian company earlier introduced to them by officials of the Nigerian Embassy in N’djamena,” he stated.
According to him, “The haulage contract which involved our group mobilising 62 trucks for the haulage of pipes from Cameroun to Chad for Willbros, was signed between us and the Chadians and endorsed by our embassy in Ndjamena.
“But the Chadian authorities, officials of Chadian Transporters Union and representatives of Trans-Regionales SA no sooner had the trucks arrived their territory than they violently took possession of them and insisted on replacing our drivers with their own drivers contrary to the spirit of the agreement and which our clients’ drivers resisted.
“In the ensuing struggle, the Chadian drivers killed two of our clients’ drivers. Our clients who accompanied the trucks ran for their dear lives through buses for days and nights until they found themselves in Camerounian territory,” he narrated.
Haruna, who explained that his group had brought its predicaments before each successive administrations since former President Olusegun Obasanjo and had almost come to closure during the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s regime; regretted that the terms of settlement for compensation got stuck at the former National Security Adviser’s office for reasons beyond his comprehension.
Haruna appealed to Buhari to reactivate the subsisting settlement agreement by directing the current National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno, to liaise with the Director, Legal Services in his (NSA) office, so that “we can bring closure to our 14-year-old pains, agony and sufferings and which has destroyed families, thrown others into poverty and brought about monumental loss to our means of livelihood.”