​ILLEGAL DETENTION: Again, DSS Disregards Court Order, Fails To Produce Ifeanyi Ubah in Court

Again, Nigeria’s secret Police, the Department of State Services on Thursday, failed to produce the Chairman, Capital Oil and Gas, Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, before Justice Muhammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.
This is in flagrant disregard of the May 12, 2017, court order given to the DSS by Justice Idris, to produce Ubah in court today.
However, this came as no fewer than 500 supporters from across different ethnic groups stormed the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, today, to rally around and show support for the oil mogul.
This is even as anger and moral indignation has continued to swell further over the continued detention of the Nnewi-born Billionaire Businessman, by the DSS
Leading the pack of those who have condemned the DSS continued detention of Ubah are Pan-Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC); the National Association of South East Nigeria Students (NASENS), HURIWA, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and  affected workers of Capital Oil and Gas.
Speaking to journalists, a Staff of Capital Oil, Mr. Tony Ogundipe expressed his frustration at the impasse. “We, Capital Oil workers are disappointed with the nonchalant attutude of the Federal Government in the resolution of this matter that has left over 2,000 of us temporarily jobless and redundant. The failure of the FG to call the conspirators to order is a blatant slap on the face of our democracy and sheer insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians”, he lamented.
“The injustice meted on Dr  Ifeanyi Ubah is negatively affecting over 2000 workers of Capital Oil. The FG should be mindful of the implications on our families who are gradually been forced to starve”.
Also speaking on the continued detention of Ubah,  pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo (Worldwide), asked the Federal Government to call the DSS to order.
The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. John Nnia Nwodo, condemned the continued detention of Ubah.
Nwodo said that Ohanaeze was disturbed by the DSS defiance of the court order to produce Ubah in court last Friday.
Ohanaeze described the action of the security agency as a violation of Dr. Ubah’s fundamental human rights, adding that it amounted to impunity on the side of the DSS.
He urged the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami, to call the DSS to order.
Nwodo, speaking for the apex Igbo organization, said that what transpired between Dr Ubah, the Chairman of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Ltd., and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), was a mere unsettled business transaction with claims by both parties.
He stressed that Ubah’s claims have not been proved to be wrong by the NNPC.
Nwodo said: “Ohaneze Ndigbo insists that the refusal to respect a court order is unconstitutional and strikes at the very foundation of our legal system. It breeds impunity. No reasonable government will condone this.
“The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) must call the DSS to order. Ifeanyi Ubah must be presumed innocent until proven guilty”.
Also, the Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) while condemning Ubah’s continued detention by DSS over a business dispute with the NNPC, described it as an affront on Ndigbo.
The National President of OYC, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, in an interview vowed that the umbrella South East youth body would use all legal means to resist any attempt to rubbish or harass any Igbo son or daughter.
He wondered why the DSS would resort to media trial of Ubah or assume the role of the court in a matter that was a mere civil transaction.
OYC had earlier in a press statement described Ubah’s ordeal as part of the plot to persecute and humiliate illustrious Igbo sons and daughters.
The statement read in part: “We yet again condemn this endless clampdown on Igbo sons and daughters by Federal Government agencies.
“It has now become a tradition that no week passes without either the EFCC or the DSS coming after an Igbo son or daughter. It is a sad commentary considering that these persons are always detained for a prolonged period than permitted by law. We condemn a situation where people are detained before investigations are carried out on the issues leading to their arrest”.
The National Association of South East Nigeria Students (NASENS) had also demanded Ubah’s immediate release.
NASENS, in a press statement issued by Dr. Kingsley Dozie Lawrence, described Ubah’s detention as illegal and a violation of his fundamental rights and an affront on Ndigbo.
The union urged the Federal Government to stop treating Igbos as second class citizens, warning that no section of the country should be treated as slaves.
The students’ body, which fixed its national convention in June, called on South East political elite to unite against Igbo marginalisation.
Governor Ayodele Fayose who also condemned the DSS over the arrest and detention of Ubah lamented that “the DSS is becoming law unto itself and dragging Nigeria back to 1984 when Decree 2 was used by the National Security Organisation (NSO) to dump Nigerians in detention without trial under flimsy excuses.”
Governor Fayose, who described the DSS claim that it arrested and detained Ubah for inciting members of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Union to stop lifting petroleum products so as to cripple the economy and cause untold hardship to Nigerians as “nonsensical”, added that; “It is becoming obvious that if nothing is done to curb the lawlessness of the DSS, the agency will singlehandedly truncate democracy in the country.”
In a statement issued in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday, by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said arresting and detaining Ifeanyi Ubah for economic sabotage was a sad reminder of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s military regime.
He said under the State Security Act CAP. N 74 LFN, 2004, the responsibility of the DSS is majorly the prevention and detection within Nigeria of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria and the protection and preservation of all non-military classified matters concerning the internal security of Nigeria, noting that the service has abandoned its core duties.
“If Ubah is being held for allegedly inciting members of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Union to stop lifting petroleum products, one day and very soon too, members of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) will be sent to jail for going on strike to agitate for their welfare,” the governor said.
Governor Fayose, who said Nigerians did not vote for change to be hounded by the DSS as it is being done since the emergence of this All Progressives Congress (APC) government, noted that; “That’s the same way the DSS arrested the former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswan in February and detained him until two days ago, claiming that he constituted security risk and failed to cooperate with investigators.
“The other time too, this same DSS claimed that it uncovered plot by the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike to disrupt governance in strategic federal government agencies and one can begin to imagine if the DSS won’t one day accuse whoever that is perceived as opposing the APC-led government of coup plot.”
Speaking further, Governor Fayose said, “Nigerians should be reminded that I raised alarm when this regime of impunity started with the invasion of the Akwa-Ibom State government house and later the Ekiti State House of Assembly. I did say then that democracy in Nigeria was becoming unsafe in the hands of this APC government and that those keeping silent because of politics might also end up in the belly of the roaring lion that was threatening to consume our democracy.
“Those who ought to have joined in condemning the DSS impunity at that time kept silent for fear of the unknown.
“Now it is Ifeanyi Ubah that they have visited with their tyranny, who knows who will be next?
“Well-meaning Nigerians and the international community must therefore raise their voice in condemnation of this regime of tyranny being ran be the DSS.”
Meanwhile, it could be recalled that last Friday, May 12, 2017, the secret Police failed to produce Dr. Ubah, eventhough Justice Idris had on May 9 ordered the DSS to produce Ubah in court to show cause why he should not be released unconditionally.
The DSS had instead filed a preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain Ubah’s suit.
Mr. Peter Oluremodu, counsel to the DSS said Ubah was not produced because there was an order to detain him for 14 days issued by a Federal Capital Territory High Court.
But, Ubah’s lawyer, Mr Raphael Oluyede, had urged Justice Idris to hold that the DSS violated his order by not producing Ubah in court today.
He said the FCT High Court’s order was obtained to frustrate Justice Idris’ order, adding that it amounted to a challenge of the court’s majesty.
“The respondents have not shown cause as why they failed to comply with your lordship’s order. Instead, they took steps to subvert the order. They acted in contempt of that order.
“The court in Abuja was not informed about the order to produce him in Lagos. Their preliminary objection is not relevant to the consideration of whether they have obeyed the order to produce him.
“I urge your lordship to consider the dignity of the court as paramount and to order Ubah’s unconditional release,” he said.
Oluyede said Ubah was first arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) on March 27 and was released on April 13, after three weeks in detention.
He said Ubah was “coerced” to sign a document acknowledging indebtedness to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and to pledge some of his assets.
He said the DSS also forced him to withdraw a fundamental rights suit he filed before he was released.
He said after Ubah’s release, he approached the court again to stop his re-arrest.
Oluyede said when the DSS invited Ubah, he wrote the agency about his pending suit.
The lawyer said the DSS arrested his client despite being told about the suit.
He accused the DSS of abusing its powers, and urged the court to hold that Ubah’s detention was contemptuous.
Ruling, Justice Idris, visibly disappointed with the maneuverings, held that it would be wrong for him to order for Ubah’s release since a court of coordinate jurisdiction had issued an order that he be detained for 14 days.
Justice Idris said his records show that the DSS was served with his order on May 10.
“It appears that on the same date, ie, May 10, 2017, the fourth and fifth respondents (DSS and its Director-General) obtained from an FCT High Court an order allowing them to detain the first applicant (Ubah) in their custody for an initial period of 14 days pending the completion of investigation.
“It is clear that there is a direct conflict between the order of this court and the order of my learned brother Y. Haliru J. A conflict situation has been created. It is sad and unfortunate.
“Courts of coordinate jurisdiction have been cautioned in situations like this. I will in the circumstances of this case and the pronouncements of the learned Law Lords of the Supreme Court, act ex abundanti cautela (Latin phrase for ‘out of abundant caution’).
“I will not make any order that will have the effect of neutralising the orders made by the FCT High Court. There must be discipline in the law. In insist on discipline in the law.
“In the light of the orders of the FCT High Court made on the 10th of May 2017, I will not make an order for the release of the applicant.
“Since the parties in this case have been served and the matter had been adjourned till the 18th day of May 2017, I shall adjourn till the 18th day of May 2017 when the substantive suit and all objection on jurisdiction will be taken together. This is the order of the court.”
Ubah prayed the court to compel DSS release him from its custody.
The EFCC, the DSS Director-General, NNPC and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) are among the respondents.
Also recall that In a supporting affidavit to Ubah’s application, Capital Oil’s Secretary, George Oranuba, said the arrest was over allegations made by the NNPC and AMCON, which were already subject of a lawsuit.
Oranuba said a “throughput agreement” between Capital Oil and NNPC allows for “conversion and diversion of products by ‘operators’ so long as the operator is prepared to re-deliver the products within seven days of demand by the product’s owner or to pay a penalty for non-re-delivery”.
According to him, the failure to re-deliver was a “mere” breach of contract, which can be remedied by the payment of penalty to the owner, and was not a criminal act for which Ubah should be arrested.
“The throughput 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,” the deponent said.
Oranuba also said NNPC was indebted to Capitol Oil in “excess of N16billion”, yet the company did not call law enforcement agencies to collect the debt.
However, with this latest failure to produce Ubah in court today, Justice Idris adjourned the matter for hearing on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

Post Author: WetinHappen Magazine

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