By ClemAguiyi | One of the greatest attributes of democracy is that it guarantees to the people the freedom of choice; the freedom to choose how they are governed and who governs them. This freedom presupposes that no one is victimized on the account of their political choice, hence democracy thrives on plurality.
But here, our version of democracy is at variance with acceptable norms. The APC led government wants everyone to view the coin from a single perspective. I wish Cameron and Obama are still in power to see the mess the created in Africa’s largest democracy. Majority of the opposition figures especially within the Peoples Democratic Party live in constant fear of their physical security. Opposition leaders fear for their liberty and state sponsored strangulation of their economic life wire.
In the run up to the 2015 general election, Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah deployed his energy to campaign for the re-election of President Jonathan, the candidate of the PDP. TAN, the pressure group he founded controlled the airwaves, churning out and circulating series of campaign adverts in support of the Transformation Agenda of the former President. Many people believed Ubah would have made a kill from the campaign but in truth PDP is still owing him.
Dr Ubah had lived in fear since his principal lost the election. He feared for his personal safety and strangulation of his business not because he committed any crime but because the successor government never hid its agenda for hostile takeover. Dr. Ubah, the fiery, feisty and financially independent politician with large ego from Nnewi, Anambra State knew they will come after him, but how and when? He never anticipated that the DSS will go outside her constitutional mandate to become a debt collector for NNPC.
The DSS unlawfully arrested Ubah and clamped him into detention. The Service 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.
The management of Capital Oil in refuting the DSS claims said the agreement leading to the keeping of the petroleum product with Capital Oil facility, allowed “conversion and diversion of the 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 Capital Oil, failure to re-deliver did not amount to a crime but 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.
From all indications what happened between NNPC and Capital Oil is a civil matter. It is likely that NNPC is even indebted to Capital Oil in “excess of N13bn as Capital Oil is counter claiming.
A breakdown of the money NNPC owes Capital Oil and Gas reflects thus: N3, 146,146,920 for the undelivered 20,000mt of PMS for which payment was duly made by Capital Oil & Gas since 14 Feb 2017. N1,170,452,408.00 represent Capital Oil& Gas payment outstanding throughput bills that remained unpaid since March 2016. N6,000,000.00 representing outstanding bill for coastal vessels intervention. N59,320,045.57 representing short payment from previous throughput bills. N5,709,981,426.00 being jetty throughput charges. N556,202,326.00 being another jetty throughput charges. $5,540,000.00 unpaid berthing fees at the rate of $20,000.00 per vessel. #2,000,000,000.00 another tranche of payments made to NNPC Group last month. NNPCgroup shipping agents have paid on their behalf a total of $2,999,919.00 leaving the above outstanding. The total naira component of the sum owed by NNPC Group as itemized above is #12,642,103,135.57 .The total US$ dollar component is $8,492,555,000.00 which at the current exchange rate is about #3,397,022,000.00.
Given the counter claim made by Capital Oil, NNPC need to refute the figures claimed by Capital Oil. It is interesting to note that NNPC has refused to make itself available to reconcile her account with Capital Oil.
A mere reconciliation of accounts would have resolved this issue because when the N15billion naira is subtracted from what Capital Oil is said to be owing, the claimed N11 billion naira will worth nil. Who ought to balance who?
I for one do not think the DSS was established to serve as a debt recovery agency so I do not know how they got involved in what ordinarily is a civil business dispute or is the DSS now a debt collecting agency?
I also gathered there was a court order restraining DSS from arresting Dr Ubah. Why then is the DSS flouting Court Order? Why the sudden media trial of Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah without charging him to court. If Ubah who has contributed enormously to national development is now characterized as economic risk because of a business dispute, how do we want to be viewed by the international investors?
It’s obvious that Ubah is being victimized with the objective of strangulating his business which has been a subject of envy. Ubah’s real crime apparently may not be the supposed diversion of petroleum products but the fact that he is ‘nyamiri’, the 5 percent that must forfeit their investment to the caliphate Northern interest.
His arrest and continued detention further exposes the APC led government selective treatment in cases involving members of the former ruling party and to some degree – the Igbo. While not holding brief for anyone engaged in corrupt practices, we must continue to point out government’s selective tactics in the prosecution of corruption cases so that we do not continue to protect the untouchables and sacred cows.
For instance whereas Dasuki and Metuh were accused of taking money meant for the procurement of arms, Dasuki a fulani from Sokoto went to court with swag but Metuh went to court in handcuffs:
Again IPOB and Boko Haram are involved in different kinds of agitations. IPOB members never carried arms nor killed anybody but Nnamdi Kanu the leader of IPOB and founder of Radio Biafra was thrown into jail and brought to court in handcuffs. On the other hand, Boko Haram killed a lot of people including military men yet the government found it necessary to negotiate and even release them. Still can’t reconcile how a responsible government will pay terrorists still within its territory. Babachir, the former Secretary to the federal government was accused of stealing millions, like wise Mr Oke of the NIA. Nobody arrested them instead a Presidential Commission was set up to investigate them but an Igbo man, Ifeanyi Ubah had to be arrested not by the police but by DSS because of a civil business transaction and branded an economic risk to Nigeria.
Nigerians are not fooled. Many are beginning to see the intimidation and harassment of Ubah as a further attempt to crucify the Igbo and hang them to dry. The oligarchs milking Nigeria to comma have never been so exposed or embarrassed except for political witch-hunt and showmanship!
I must warn. Let nobody make a martyr of Ifeanyi Ubah. He must be released now as his arrest and detention against a subsisting court order is condemnable. The DSS as a respectable institution established by law should not be seen to be flouting the law. NNPC should be encouraged to sit down with Capital Oil and iron out their trade differences. Resorting to arm twisting and intimidation and the thought of strangulating a fledgling business concern under this recession is abominable. DSS and the Presidency should consider the plight of over 2000 people under the employment of Capital Oil and Gas and ensure that this dispute is resolved without further show of brute force.