By Peter Agba Kalu
The question on the lips of concerned citizens of this country is this: should the judiciary allow and exacerbate the balkanisation of her respect, secret, sanctity and standards? Can there not be new and more stringent ways to punish the “snakes”, “vultures”, and “dogs” that are out to destroy this noble institution? Why should the judiciary allow Chikamnayo to sit in judgment on Ogar in a case still pending in court? And he wasted no time in pronouncing Ogah guilty; and even had the effrontery to call a press conference to announce his own “judgment”.
Why are they folding their hands and allowing “brothel keepers” to disrespect the very institution we hold in high esteem? Did Ogah make a mistake in approaching the court? To ignore Eze Chikamnayo’s utterances is to give green light to individuals to run riot over cases in court. If Chikamnayo is a lawyer sharing his legal opinion, it would be understandable. But he’s not and he is everywhere abusing Ogah and the judiciary over a case that is still pending in court.
Since the Abia State governorship tussle between Okezie Ikpeazu and Uche Ogah started, it appears heaven was let loose with all manner of unfair judicial comments on a matter squarely before courts of competent jurisdiction. We have seen and read all manner of opinions, viz. legal, “illegal”, and political.
The article published by Eze Chikamnayo on Monday August 8, 2016 titled, ‘God has used Abia Crisis to Expose Ogah’ should have been ignored by all, as the writer succeeded while trying to attack Ogah, in exposing his ignorance of the law which cannot be an excuse in Nigeria and at the same time confirmed that his master, Okezie Ikpeazu, submitted tax documents to INEC on oath that are questionable. This rejoinder became necessary to set the record straight so that some people would not rely on the false information of the writer as gospel.
For the record, here is the true position of things as narrated by Barrister Ubani who is representing Ogah in court. Masters Energy Oil and Gas Ltd, Uche Ogah’s company, had a business relationship with one Mrs. Bridget Adeosun. She had an allocation to import petroleum into the country but had no financial capacity to carry out the business.
She approached Masters Energy to buy her allocation and they told her that they had enough allocation and did not need any such allocation but she begged and cried raising all manner of sentiments, including pleading poverty, suffering and lack of financial assistance as her husband was incapable due to ill health. Shortly thereafter, the husband died and she pleaded with Ogah, who in his characteristic manner gave her the sum of about N5million to enable her bury her husband.
After the burial, she came back pleading again and if you know the character of Uche Ogah, you will understand why her proposal to sell her allocation to Masters Energy was accepted and a Memorandum of Understanding was executed including Account Opening Documents in the bank wherein signatories were appointed to the knowledge of all parties to the transaction. She was given the full sum of the purchase price by cheque and she signed personally as having received the full sum for the sale of the allocation.
She cashed her money (we have all the evidence yet Chikamnayo claimed we have only photocopies because it was all forged). Masters Energy carried out the importation and incurred a loss in the transaction, but that was no longer the business of the seller as she was not liable for the profit or loss of the business. Later on, Masters Energy applied for dollar differentials to the Debt Management Office of the Federation and they agreed to pay the sum of about N51 million.
Since the cheque would be written in the company’s name of Mrs. Adeosun as NNPC does not recognise third party payment (NNPC deals only with the name of the company that initially secured the allocation), Mrs. Adeosun developed interest in the N51million differentials and applied to UBA which has the account of the transaction to be an ‘A’ signatory in order to withdraw the money whenever it was paid into the bank.
Masters Energy got wind of the fraudulent move and took steps to block it. Part of the measures they took was writing to the Debt Management Office not to issue the cheque in the name of the company of the woman and they also went to a Federal High Court Abuja and got an interlocutory order that the said sum should not be paid into the account of the woman’s company but that the sum should be paid into an interest yielding account of the court pending the final determination of the suit as to who owns the money.
That move got Mrs. Adeosun mad and that coincided with the time Ogah was seeking for elective office in Abia State. Aided by Ogah’s political opponents, Mrs. Adeosun took a pure civil transaction to the police alleging that all the documents she signed for the transaction were all forged. She went to about five police formations in the country over this allegation and at each formation, she was told that the matter was purely civil and has no iota of criminal intent or act. But buoyed by the money Abia State government was dishing out generously and spending on all the police formations, she persisted to the end. Police got tired and finally charged the matter to court with no single evidence that Ogar committed any crime.
When the matter came up for the first time in court, Dr. Ogah pleaded not guilty as there was no criminal intent or act in a matter that was a pure civil transaction in which greed had enveloped Mrs. Adeosun who claimed to be a pastor. As we waited for her to prove her case in the court of law, Eze Chikamnayo invaded the public space and started finding Ogah and judges guilty through press conferences and distorted Facebook posts.
When the matter was adjourned for mention and on the said date, unfortunately, the magistrate was indisposed, Eze Chikamnayo and the Okezie media team once more invaded the public space and indicted the judiciary of having taken slush funds from Ogah to postpone hearing, not even judgment, till 26th October, to enable Ogah win his cases in court and be covered by immunity.
The same Eze Chikamnayo who jumped into APC immediately after the last election is the author of the twin allegations that Ogah is using the APC to win his case, and that Ogah is now a member of the APC. This is very absurd and cheap talk, to say the least.
As his media aide, I want to assure the good people of Abia and Ndi Igbo that love this dynamic young man that Ogah is a member of the PDP and will remain there till the end of time whether his distractors like it or not. He is not going anywhere as he has refused a long time ago to leave the PDP. Not then and not now!
The reasonable question any discerning Abian should be asking is what is the business of Abia State government officials in a matter between Mrs. Adeosun, a Yoruba woman, and Masters Energy, a company owned by Dr Ogah?
On the issue of forgery, Eze Chikamnayo goofed by saying that Ogah’s case has nothing to do with uncovering forgery. For the avoidance of doubt and clarity of purpose, Ogah’s case has to do with false information to INEC on oath contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act which makes such a deposition an electoral offence. Before you swear to an oath about documents you are submitting to INEC and/or your party for the purpose of election, it is mandatory for you to examine and re-examine them to make sure they are correct. Once submitted, you cannot turnaround to plead mistake whether by you and /or any person(s) for that matter.
Needless to pass the buck to the government that issued the tax clearance certificate. After all, any beneficiary of such a document as in this case, knowing the importance in the eyes of the Electoral Law has to “shine his eye” and if not satisfied, can even reject it. Is Chikamnayo trying to tell us that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu intentionally collected irregular tax certificate from the government so that he can rely on the “Doctrine of Irregularity” for defence? It is laughable for Chikamnayo to submit that the Federal High Court ought to have invited the Abia State Board of Inland Revenue to address the court.
What then, one may ask is the duty of the lawyers that stood for Okezie in the case? If the lawyers on the side of Ikpeazu had deemed it necessary to invite the Board of Internal Revenue in proving their case, nothing could have stopped them from doing so. So if Justice Mbang, on the strength of the facts and the evidence before him gave his verdict, who then is Chikamnayo to fault the means he chose to arrive at that verdict?
It is also very infantile for Chikamnayo to say that Ogah wants to become the governor so that he can get immunity. For the many years he has been in business and even now, there is no established case against him in any court of competent jurisdiction that can affect him to the extent of rushing to get immunity. As a matter of fact, it is not a crime to aspire to become a governor especially for a man who has done a lot for his people and whose name is a household name to the downtrodden people earnestly looking for a genuine change in their God’s own land.
I want to remind Chikamnayo that it was only Masters Energy filling stations that maintained the price of N50 for kerosene in the entire state for many months when other filling stations made huge profits by selling their stocked kerosene products then above the government regulated price.
What the Abians need now is a governor who can bring about the much-needed change in Abia State. Who would not like good roads, provision of other infrastructure, regular payment of workers’ salaries, employment of youths and graduates roaming the streets? All these are little things to Uche Ogah considering his wealth of experience in managing resources as a big private sector player.