The Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, Ifeanyi Ubah, has sued the Department of State Services before the Federal High Court in Lagos over what he termed unlawful detention by the security agency.
Ubah’s lawyer, Mrs. Ifeoma Esom, who appeared before Justice Mohammed Idris on Tuesday with an ex parte application, claimed that her client had been in detention since May 6.
She urged the judge to order the DSS to release Ubah to prevent the security agency from coercing him to accede to “whatever conditions they impose on him in exchange for his freedom.”
Upon hearing the ex parte application on Tuesday, Justice Idris ordered the DSS to bring Ubah before him on May 12, 2017, to show cause why the businessman should not be released unconditionally.
In an affidavit filed in support of the application, the Secretary of Capital Oil and Gas Limited,George Oranuba, claimed that the DSS arrested his boss on account of allegations levelled against him by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria.
According to Oranuba, the issue had become a subject of litigation and was already before the court.
Oranuba, however, said despite the subsisting suit, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the DSS still invited Ubah for questioning.
According to him, Ubah had earlier been detained from March 24 to April 14, 2017.
The DSS had claimed that it arrested and detained Ubah for what it termed an act of “economic sabotage” involving an alleged diversion of petroleum products worth about N11bn.
The DSS claimed that the said petroleum products, belonging to NNPC Retail, stored in the Capital Oil farm in Lagos, went missing under controversial circumstances.
However, the company secretary, Oranuba, said the agreement leading to the keeping of the petroleum product with Capital Oil, allowed “conversion and diversion of IT products by operators as long as the operator is prepared to re-deliver the products within seven days of demand by the owner of the product or to pay a penalty for non-re-delivery.”
According to him, failure to re-deliver did not amount to a crime but is a mere breach of contract, which can be remedied by payment of a penalty to the owner.
“The agreement expressly states that any penalty due for non-re-delivery is to be treated as a debt and I verily believe that law enforcement agencies are not allowed to operate as debt collectors,” he said.
Oranuba claimed that NNPC is indebted to Capital Oil and Gas Limited in “excess of N13bn yet the company did not call law enforcement agencies to collect the debt, despite the length of time NNPC has held on to the money.”