A High Court of Federal Capital Territory will Thursday, May 25, decide whether to free Chief Executive Officer of Capital Oil and Gas Ltd, Ifeanyi Uba, from detention of the Department of State Security (DSS) or not.
This is sequel to a motion on notice filed by Uba challenging his continued detention by the DSS .
In the motion brought pursuant to Section 298(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, Uba, through his lawyer, Ifeoma Esom is praying for an order vacating/discharging the exparte order of the court made on the May 10, 2017, allowing the DSS to detain him in their custody for an initial period of 14 days pending the completion of investigation.
The applicant contended that the DSS, based on a report made to it by the NNPC over the purely civil dispute arising out of the alleged indebtedness of COG to the NNPC, arrested him from his house in Lagos on the 24th of March 2017 and kept him in custody until April 14, 2017, when he was temporarily and conditionally released after he had been coerced into making payment of N2bn and executing various documents in favour of NNPC and AMCON.
However, Esom told the court that Uba upon return to his home in Lagos, in fear for his life and liberty should he renew his claims that he is not indebted to either NNPC Retail Ltd or AMCON as he had maintained before his incarceration, instructed his counsel to file an application for the enforcement of his fundamental rights.
When the suit came up before the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on April 27, 2017, the court granted him leave to serve the originating processes on the DSS outside Lagos whereupon the originating processes were served on them on April 28, 2017.
According to Esom, “Notwithstanding the pendency of the suit and the service of the originating processes, the DSS again invited Uba to report to its offices in respect of the same allegations made by the NNPC and AMCON which is the subject matter of the suit.
On May 5, 2017, the DSS arrested the respondent (Uba) in Lagos and moved him to their Abuja office, she revealed.
Based on this development, Uba’s lawyers filed a motion exparte seeking, “an order directing the 4th and 5th respondents (DSS and Director General DSS respectively) to produce the respondent in court within 48 hours of the order of court to show cause why he should not be released unconditionally.
The court on May 9 made an order directing the DSS to produce Uba in court before the May 12 to show cause why he should not be released.
Esom stated that the enrolled order was served on the DSS at about 10am on May 10.
According to her, “Immediately upon the service of the enrolled order, the DSS surreptitiously filed and obtained on the same day, a motion exparte before the court which sought for an order to allow it detain the respondent for 14 days.
However, in their counter affidavit in opposition to Uba’s application, the DSS urged Court to dismiss the motion.
In a 5-parapgh affidavit deposed to by one Safwan Bello, an officer with the DSS, the Federal Government security agency stated that all the averments contained Uba’s affidavit are not true.
The DSS claimed that Uba was arrested on reasonable suspicion of his involvement in a crime, having converted (84 million litres) of premium motor spirit belonging to the NNPC kept in the custody if Hus tank farm, to his personal use.
“That the PMS is worth N11bn, and after repeated demands, Uba refused to return the litres to the NNPC.
“That the action of the respondent is affecting the distribution of petroleum products to the populace.
“That the action of the respondent us sabotage of NNPC activities as it relates to distribution of petroleum products.
“That if no urgent steps were taken by the Federal Government, the action of the respondent would have plunged the country into widespread scarcity with its attendant effect on the economy.”