Ubah Committed Economic Sabotage, NNPC Tells Court


Davidson Iriekpen

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) thursday informed the Federal High Court in Lagos that the reason why oil magnate, Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah, is being detained by the Department of State Security (DSS) is because he committed economic sabotage, by diverting petroleum products kept in his custody.

The corporation through its lawyer, Mr. K. T. Turaki (SAN), stated this while urging the court to strike out the motion on notice filed by Ubah seeking an order for his release from the custody of DSS.

Turaki while arguing his clients’ counter-affidavit to Ubah’s originating motion and preliminary objection to the motion, averred that the corporation had in the past two years being subjected to various investigations, particularly the issue of fuel diversion, adding that NNPC has a duty to inform the Investigating agencies where the fuels were kept. And that it is left for them to find out what happened to the fuel.

On the true put argument by the plaintiff, the respondents said even if the agreement existed, the position is that a crime has been committed by the diversion of the products. And stating that the law is that no party in an agreement has the right to decriminalized the criminal act.

Turaki also submitted that the security agencies have inherent power under the constitution to investigate economic crime, which diversion of petroleum product is one of them.

In challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter, the NNPC lawyer stated that all the alleged infringements committed by the plaintiff took place in Abuja, not in Lagos.

He therefore urged the court to decline jurisdiction on the matter and strike out the applicant’s application.

In the same vein, the DSS through its lawyer, Mr. Peter Okerinmade, also urged the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s application on the grounds that it lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

Okerinmodu while adopting the DSS counter-affidavit and preliminary objection, said Ubah’s motion is aimed at frustrating the ongoing investigation on the allegation made against him by the NNPC.

Furthermore, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) through its lawyer, A. M. Ocholi, argued that going through the affidavit filed by the applicant, there was nowhere it alleged of any breach of the applicant rights by the commission.

He equally urged the court to dismiss the suit.
However, Ubah’s lawyer, Mrs. Isioma Esom, while arguing her client’s motion on notice, told the court to discountenance all the objections raised by the respondents, stating that her client’s originating summon was brought under Order 2, Rule of the court and it was supported with affidavit of 103 paragraphs deposed to by one George Oranuba, Company Secretary of Capital Oil and Gas.

Esom told the court that the only reason why her client (Ubah) is being harassed by the first to sixth respondents is on the allegation that he is indebted to the NNPC.

Ubah’s lawyer also informed the court that the said debt arose from a contract, which she said should have nothing with criminal offence.

She also told the court that the NNPC is currently owing her client’s firm, Capital Oil and Gas Limited the sum of N10 billion and $8 million, and her client never report to any security agency.

Ubah’s lawyer also informed the court that her client was arrested on two occasions in Lagos and kept at the Shangisha’s custody of DSS before being transferred to Abuja.

She therefore urged the court to grant his client’s application by ordering the DSS to release him unconditionally. Or in alternative, to admit him to bail, pending the conclusion of the matter.

Justice Mohammed Idris, after listening to the submissions of both parties, adjourned till May 25, 2017, for ruling.

Ubah had approached the court for an order compelling the DSS to release him unconditionally.

Those dragged before the court by the businessman as respondents are: Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Director-General of DSS, DSS, Inspector-General of Police (IG), NNPC, NNPC Retail Limited, and Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).