By Chidi Cali
The protracted business disagreement between Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Dr Ifeanyi Ubah, the director of Capital Oil and Gas has taken a new twist, as the Nigerian government through the Directorate of Security Services (DSS) has forced Ubah to sign away some of his assets, denouncing being owed by NNPC and paying billions of Naira to unconfirmed bank account(s).
In telephone inquiries to our DSS contacts, Hope For Nigeria was informed about clandestine agreement Ifeanyi Uba was forced to endorse stating that he or his company are no longer owed N16 billion by the NNPC and N26.5 billion by AMCON. In a consent judgement delivered by a Federal High Court in 2013, Capital Oil was awarded the above sum against AMCON.
The DSS also forced him to transfer N2 billion to a yet to be ascertained bank account, Hope For Nigeria is still digging to find out if this fund was transferred to NNPC, DSS or into private pockets. Ubah was also forced to signed documents transferring some of his businesses and assets to the Nigerian government.
The media shy and self-made billionaire, according to Hope For Nigeria, was arrested on May 05, 2017, by the DSS on accusation of selling the Premium Motor Spirit (commonly called petrol) stored in his Tank Farm to upset some of the funds owed to him by the NNPC and allegedly inciting members of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers to embark on strike because of his disagreement with the NNPC.
In a swift reaction, Comrade Mohammed Abulkadir, the Media officer of Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) an offshoot of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers faulted the DSS allegation that Ifeanyi Ubah infiltrated the ranks of the PTD in order to induce a strike over his face-off, describing the accusation as inaccurate and regrettable.
On DSS’s second allegation, which stated that Dr Ifeanyi Ubah illegally diverted about 84 million litres of PMS that was kept in his custody by the NNPC, valued at N11billion. Capital Oil and Gas has clarified that they were constraint to sell the products, as NNPC has refused to pay their over due debt including rent, which has lingered for over 18 months.
Capital Oil after failed efforts to recover their debts from the NNPC Retail Services, petitioned government agencies including the national Assembly and the EFCC for them to pressure the NNPC to pay the debt,as some of the funds in question were financial obligations and the interests and capital repayments are weighing much on the cash flow and operation of their business.
In simple terms, according to Hope For Nigeria, the commercial transaction is between NNPC Retails Services and Capital Oil and Gas,not NNPC Retail Services with Ifeanyi Ubah. Arresting Ifeanyi Ubah makes nonsense of the fact that a company is a legal entity and different from its owners.
Capital Oil is a legal entity on its own right that NNPC or DSS (a no interest party in this case) can sue, not Ifeanyi Ubah, a director or anyone working with Capital Oil. Capital Oil and Gas is an Going Concern and it is only in the event of the contrary, that is if Capital Oil is no longer trading, then the directors or any high profile staff can be sued in relation to the activities or individual stewardship while working for the company.
The Capital Oil CEO, Dr Ifeanyi Ubah in one of his interviews before his illegal arrest, narrated that, the NNPC failed to tell the public that they were owing Capital Oil from their mutual business transactions. “It is normal for parties in businesses to owe each other in business relationships and that if reconciliation is carried out with the NNPC, the firm will find out that there may be very little or nothing for Capital Oil to pay the corporation.”Ubah added that, “In the last four months (Christmas and New year period), NNPC has borrowed products running into millions of litres from Capital Oil to meet their demand and wedging off any scarcity at that celebration period.
“We have an ongoing relationship and we need to sit down and reconcile our accounts,” “NNPC has a subsisting contract with our company which is on throughput basis. The corporation has consistently been in breach of our contractual agreement by owing us money for services rendered. “Payments from NNPC for services rendered by our company has consistently been delayed for periods spanning over one year and remains unpaid till date.
“Currently, NNPC owes us for services rendered to the corporation at very critical periods to salvage nationwide fuel scarcity since 2015 (more than two years now), amounting to millions of dollars and billions of naira.
Sequel to a telephone interview by Hope For Nigeria to NNPC officers at their corporation’s headquarter, they confirmed the suspicions of Nigerians that the arrest and detention is not related to their business transaction, but politicians who are not comfortable with Ifeanyi Ubah, especially his ownership of a Strategic Petroleum Reserve (Tank farm) facility that supplies more than half of Nigeria’s fuel need. They went further to state that Ifeanyi Ubah’s captors best option is to level frivolous allegations of fraud on him and to dispose him of the ownership of the facility using the DSS as the intimidating agent.
The NNPC informed Hope For Nigeria that there is an on-going transaction reconciliation meeting going on between the NNPC Retail Services and Capital Oil which the DSS, the Nigerian secret police hosted. The two party have stated their indebtedness to other, although their are need for proper scrutiny to ascertain the actual debt.
They reconfirmed that the value of NNPC’s PMS deposited in Capital Oil’s facility is about N11billion and express displeasure on the fact that Capital Oil has being assisting NNPC during the high demand periods by giving them PMS which they usually pays them later and some payments my be outstanding and there is no need for the government or whatever interest group to have given him this kind of treatment. Capital Oil’s Right to Sell Petrol Stored In Their Tank Farm.
According to common law’s rule of Warehouseman lien, Capital Oil and Gas has the right to sell the PMS stored in its facility by NNPC Retail Services, when they fails to pay for their use the storage facility and other indebtedness to Capital Oil (the Warehouseman). When goods are delivered to a professional storage operator (Capital Oil) for safe keeping, they may become subject to a lien. A lien is a security right which gives the warehouseman rights over the goods that can take precedence over the rights of others, including the owner. They are entitled to exercise the lien when services they rendered remains unpaid and in so doing will gain legal control over the goods.
For nearly a month, Ifeanyi Ubah is locked up by the DSS in a commercial transaction between two entities. If NNPC feels that Capital Oil defaulted in any of their agreements, their best option is to go to court, not intimidating the director of Going Concern company with state security apparatus.
Hope For Nigeria still believe that Mr. Lawal Daura, the Director-General of the Directorate of State Security (DSS), was not properly briefed on this development or was misinformed by over-zealous government officials that wanted a pound of flesh from Ifeanyi Ubah. We are certain that now the DSS boss is fully aware of what transpired, the onus is on him is to ensure that Mr Ubah should be allowed to go home to give him and NNPC Retails Services to complete their reconciliation.
Chidi Cali (Director, Hope for Nigeria UK)
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