by Azeez Adeniyi
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has opposed a suit filed by Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, Ifeanyi Ubah, asking for his release from the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
NNPC lawyer, K.T Turak on Thursday said Ubah’s company diverted 84,891,730 litres of Premium Motor Spirit belonging to the NNPC.
According to him, the PMS is valued N11,144,586,314.40.
It said, “Consequent upon the above development, the 7th respondent (NNPC) carried out stock physicalisation of operators’ storage facilities including those of the applicants (Capital Oil and Ubah).
“He (Ubah) knows, as a fact, that the exercise revealed huge variance between the book stock maintained by AMCON and the physical stock available at Capital Oil depot as follows:
“As of January 2017, the variance between the book balance and physical balance of product in the applicants’ depot was 21k,286,860 litres.
“As of February 2017, the variance between the book balance and physical balance of product in the applicants’ depot was 56,481,861 litres.
“By March 2017, the variance between the book balance and physical balance of product in the applicants’ depot reached 84,891,730.
“At the end of the exercise, it was discovered that the applicants had converted and/or diverted 84,891,730 litres worth N11,144,586,314.40 without the knowledge of the NNPC and AMCON.”
The NNPC alleged that despite writing Ubah and his company to return the product or pay the money, they had “deliberately failed, refused and/or neglected to do so.”
The DSS also urged presiding judge, Mohammed Idris to dismiss Ubah’s suit.
The DSS said Ubah was being detained on the order of Justice Y. Haliru of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
But Ubah’s lawyer, Mrs. Ifeoma Esom, urged Justice Idris to order Ubah’s release, contending that the DSS could not act as a debt collection agency.
“Even if money were owed, it is still not enough reason to arrest and detain the applicant. The functions and duties of the Department of State Services as provided by law do not include the recovery of debts.
“There is no correlation between the facts before my Lord and national security,” Esom said.
Justice Idris adjourned till May 25, 2017 for ruling.