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Ifeanyi Ubah as an economic prisoner of conscience

I was born in the middle of the Nigerian civil war, a conflict that saw millions of my people killed and survivors losing  their stake in a country that they fought against .

I am a witness to my people being treated unfairly. So understand me when I do not trust the system with its pretensions of meaning well.  It’s not just Dr Ubah that I see on the cross, I see a thickening cloud around such Igbo business greats like OUK, Peter Obi, Coscharis, Ibeto, Innoson, Emeka Offor and others by those who believe Ndi Igbo must be excluded from not just the politics of Nigeria but from the economic height of Nigeria.

When I penned the article on my thoughts on the harassment, intimidation, interrogation, eventual arrest and forced trial of Ifeanyi Ubah by the DSS, I wasn’t writing to shield him from the law assuming he has committed any crime but to ensure he is given the same decent treatment as Wale Tinubu, Dangote, Otedola etc- a fair hearing and his day in court.

As usual, that article elicited mixed reactions from readers, some of whom accused me of taking sides because Ubah is Igbo. They tried to remind me that DG of NIA and SGF etc. are under investigation and there was no reaction by people of their respective ethnic extractions.

Not surprised, some Nigerians like to compare apples with oranges.  It will be good to reiterate that oranges and apples are not one and the same. For example; NIA and SGF were government office holders unlike Ifeanyi Ubah. NIA and SGF were not arrested by DSS or any other security agency unlike Ifeanyi Ubah. NIA and SGF were not detained unlike Ifeanyi Ubah. NIA and SGF were holding privileged positions unlike Ifeanyi Ubah who became the MD of Capital Oil based on hard work and vision.

NIA and SGF were not in commercial transactions with another entity unlike Ifeanyi Ubah’s Capital Oil.

If this presents me as taking sides, then so be it because truth takes sides. I have taken sides with the truth

After my last article on the Ubah matter, I had taken more time to review the various contending issues with hope I could arrive on a different conclusion

On May 6, 2017, the DSS announced the arrest of Ifeanyi Ubah and based their action on the following allegations: Ubah engaged in acts of economic sabotage which included stealing, diversion and illegal sale of petroleum products stored in his tank farm by the NNPC.  They claimed that the products stolen amount to over Eleven Billion Naira (N11bn),  an act capable of  negatively impacting  on the national economy. The DSS further claimed that Ubah engaged in other activities inimical to national security and public order by inciting members of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), a critical player in the downstream sub-sector of the Petroleum Industry, to refuse/stop the lifting of products. DSS established that Ubah planned  to curry the sentiments of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers and cause them to embark on strike and also stage protests in his favour with the ulterior motive of arm-twisting the NNPC to abandon the cause of recovering the stolen products.

These are very weighty allegations as the only thing the DSS didnt accuse Ubah of is high treason

Ubah through his lawyers and company has since rebutted  DSS allegations. In their well circulated rebuttal, they made it clear that Capital Oil/NNPC are into commercial transaction and in a matter of conflict emanating from the contract, DSS does not have a place. Why then is DSS in court with Ubah instead of NNPC? NNPC is yet to refute that the Corporation does not owe Capital Oil. What is the difficulty in NNPC going to roundtable with Capital Oil to reconcile their accounts.  The biggest threats to economic growth is the use of wrong words by the government agencies and personnel. When DSS issued its press release against the person of Dr Ifeanyi Ubah, it had the capacity to cause incalculable damage to the economy. It is enough to chase investors away, scare off intending ones and create unnecessary panic in Nigeria’s business circles.

In 2012, Capital Oil and Gas had its N10.9billion held by the NNPC up to December 2015 before they paid the company, yet, the company didn’t use DSS on them. That money they held up to 2015 dragged the Capital Oil business backward but government did not consider their own attitude as economic sabotage.

It is of note that a competent court of our land ruled in October 2016 that AMCON should pay Capital Oil N26billion as contained in a consent judgment delivered as far back as 2013, but the agency is yet to comply with that order. What else is the definition of economic sabotage? Is it ok for government to destroy small businesses through accumulated but unpaid debt.

How can anyone call Capital Oil or its MD Oil thief when NNPC owes the Company over N16 billion which is far above the amount in dispute. While it may be morally wrong for Capital Oil to have disposed products in its care without court order  but yet nothing in the agreement between Capital Oil and NNPC  forbade Capital Oil from selling the NNPC products in its tank farm. In fact, their agreement made room for such sale as it states that should that happen, Dr Ubah would pay 1% extra of the value of petroleum volume sold. So, Dr Ubah was willing to sell even at a loss. If there is anyone that has contributed so much to driving the economy of this country to greatness, that person is Dr Ifeanyi Ubah. Rather than being villified, Ubah should be commended and protected for creating jobs in an unfriendly business environment like that of Nigeria.  This is a man that is focused on how to create a merit driven economy where people get jobs based on merit rather than any other primordial considerations.

I detest government impunity. It is only in Nigeria that a government agency will not pay a private company and the Nigerian public will not be alarmed by it. Fighting corruption is not when you arrest the wrong person.

It is also of note that by virtue of the “Throughput” content of the contract, it is even difficult for DSS or NNPC to say that Capital Oil illegally diverted NNPC product because the contract accommodates inter exchanging of the products in line with the content of the contract.

It is of note also that NUPENG and PTD have stated that Ifeanyi Ubah is not inciting them as claimed by the DSS. The question now is, who is inciting the DSS against the economy? Why destroy over 25,000 jobs that cut across various ethnic and religious  groups because you want to pull down just one man.

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