Uche Ogah, the President of Master’s Energy Limited, is a man in the news. Apart from the fact that he has been having a running battle of over the candidacy of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, for the April 2015 governorship election for his native Imo State, he has also been having issues with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Earlier in the week, news went viral that the businessman turned politician had been arrested by the EFCC. Both online and mainstream media feasted on the story. He was said to have been detained over an oil and gas deal between his company and one Mrs. Bridget Adeosun. It was an issue that has been going on for some time between Ogah’s company and Adeosun. However, the most bizarre was the report that there were jubilations at the Abia State Government House with supporters of the governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, rejoicing that at last, their political nemesis has been put away probably for a long time.
In a long and acrimonious legal battle that lasted for over a year, Ogah had been declared winner of the last governorship election in Abia State by Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja on June 27. In the ruling by Abang, Ogah was the rightful winner of the PDP primaries that took place before the election proper and not Ikpeazu.
Allegedly arrested with Ogah was one Deji Somoye, an ex-employee of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Deji Somoye. They were alleged to have forged the signature of one Bridget Adeosun of Mutt-Hass Petroleum Limited.
But as it turned out, Ogah was never arrested as he was merely invited by the EFCC and he left their offices almost immediately.
“I was neither arrested, detained nor under any investigation for any criminal charge whatsoever. The EFCC has a process of inviting anyone under investigation, either in writing or by inviting you through other means. That has not been done as you can see me physically here,” Ogah told newsmen in his office.
Speaking further, Ogah said “the transaction was properly executed. I spent N1.8billion and made a loss of N10billion. This transaction took place in 2011. She never argued or refuted anything from that day until when they paid us interest on foreign exchange differentials. She rushed to the DMO and claim N51million. We stopped her at the DMO with an injunction.”
But in a separate statement released by Emmanuel Iheanacho, the spokesman of Master’s Energy, said it was misleading to say the politician was arrested.
“The truth of the matter is that Ogah as a law abiding citizen, went to the court last Monday in connection with the case between Mut-Hass Limited and Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited. The court in its wisdom struck out the case on the ground that the charges against him was preferred hastily without evidence. The reports in the media of his purported arrest are totally misleading, mischievous and designed to smear his image and to distract and scuttle the political goals of Ogah. He will remain unflinching in the pursuit of those goals. For the avoidance of any doubt, Ogah was not arrested,” Iheanacho declared.
However, the bizarre twist to the whole saga was the jubilation in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, over the purported arrest of Ogah. It was not only strange but showed the extent of hatred between the state’s leading political gladiators. The state commissioner for information, Bonnie Iwuoha, was said to have released a statement aired on the state-owned radio where he was said to have ‘congratulated’ the EFCC for arresting Ogah. He was said to have called on EFCC to ensure that the businessman was made to account for his ‘misdeeds’.
Joshua Ogbonna, the Chairman of the Ogah Campaign Organisation, lambasted the commissioner for descending so low as ‘congratulating’ the EFCC for arresting a prominent Abia citizen. He said the statement was “frivolous, premature and totally misplaced.”
He lamented that celebration of the state government was at odds with the long held Igbo tradition of watching each other’s back. “Instead of being our brother’s keeper, those who are temporarily holding power are busy hounding and hunting down Abians.”
Ogbonna said it was unfortunate that instead of asking the likes of Ogah to come and invest in the state “they are busy mocking themselves” and celebrating an imaginary misfortune of a prominent Abia son. He said the government of Abia State was in no way connected with the matter for which Ogah was arrested by the EFCC hence it would do them no good to celebrate, adding that it was not yet time for them to celebrate.
“Abia government has nothing to do with the case but they connived with the woman to petition the EFCC against Ogah and when the truth came to light the EFCC had no reason to keep him in detention and promptly let him go,” Ogbonna said.
And where the curiosity lies is the fact that the case between Adeosun and Ogah has nothing to do with the government of Abia State but the state government has shown more than a passing interest in the matter to the extent that at times, its agents are present in court to witness proceedings. And that is why many are of the opinion that perhaps, the state government is taking its political ‘war’ with Ogah too far.
And with Ogah not detained by EFCC, may be Ikpeazu’s lieutenants had jubilated a bit too early.