Capital Oil and Gas Limited, owned by businessman, Ifeanyi Ubah has alleged that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) owes it N16 billion.

The company stated this in reaction to the arrest and detention of its chairman, Ubah by the Department of State Security (DSS) for what the agency said was based on his involvement in alleged stealing, diversion and illegal sale of petroleum products stored in his tank farm.

But in a statement released on Monday, the management of the company denied the accusation, adding, that it is an attempt to criminalise a commercial dispute between the company and the NNPC.

While it was widely reported that Capital Oil and Gas was unable to return 82 million litres of petrol, valued at N11 billion, out of over 100 million litres which the NNPC kept with it, the company said rather, it was the NNPC that owes it N16 billion.

According to the company, it is owed “$5,540,000 (N2.2billion) – unpaid berthing fees for NNPC vessels that called at our Jetty, $2,952,555 (N1billion) – invoice for chartered vessels to carryout STS operations Lagos offshore to ferry product (PMS) to storage at the request of NNPC since 2015, N1.170billion – amount owed to Capital Oil & Gas Industries Limited for throughput services from March to October 2016, N3.146billion – payment made to NNPC for 26,820million litres of PMS vide Pro-forma Invoice No. 53598 which is yet to be delivered to us”.

It listed other debts to include, N2.0billion – Payment to NNPC in April to facilitate the release of the Managing Director and engender reconciliation which NNPC reneged on. N6.266billion – N0.80k and N0.40 Jetty Throughput charge on over 7 billion liters dispensed for NNPC by us”.

In the statement, the company also narrated the events that led to the arrest of Ubah, a one-time governorship candidate in Anambra state. “The incarceration of our Chairman by DSS is unlawful, a disregard for the rule of law and a breach of Dr. Ubah’s fundamental right to liberty, freedom of movement and association.

“A similar invitation was extended to Dr. Ubah on the 24th of March 2017, which he honoured as a law-abiding citizen only to be detained in DSS offices in Abuja for almost a month.

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“During that period a Fundamental Rights Enforcement Application was brought on behalf of Dr. Ubah at the Federal High Court Lagos as Suit No. FHC/L/C/487/2017.
“Although an order was made for his production in court in that action, rather than obey the order, officers DSS, using a combination of coercion and cajoling, constrained him to discontinue that action upon an understanding that he would be immediately released. He was not released until over two weeks after he had complied and completely discontinued that action.

“Upon his release on the 13th of April 2017, it was now discovered that during his incarceration he had been coerced into executing various documents committing the company to make certain payments and pledge some assets to NNPC Retail Limited. He was also made to execute a document in favour of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

“As soon as his doctors permitted access to him an action was brought at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court seeking, inter alia, an order to restrain DSS and others from further inviting, arresting or threatening to arrest or detain him in regard to the NNPC/NNPC Retail Ltd matters.

“The processes originating the new action filed as Suit No. FHC/L/CS/644/2017, were served on the DSS on the 28th of April 2017.

“Dr. Ubah’s lawyers wrote to the DSS pointing out that any preemption of the judicial intervention during the pendency of the new action is totally irregular, a disregard of the rule of law, the constitutional guarantees of separation of powers and breach of the doctrine of Lis Pendens.

“Rather than respect its constitutional and statutory limits the DSS has brazenly abducted Dr. Ubah and commenced a media blitz to justify their illegality”, the company stated.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has advised on dialogue to settle the lingering crisis brewing between the government, the DSS and the Management of Capital Oil over the alleged illegal sale of petroleum products stored in their tank farm by the NNPC.

The union stressed its displeasure over the illegal diversion and sale of the petroleum products by Capital Oil, but that it was of the opinion that the Federal Government cannot sit down and watch workers lose their jobs, as in the case of Capital Oil, where over 2,000 workers are presently idle.

It added that the global practice is for government to secure and create jobs.

NUPENG made this known in a statement signed by the President, Comrade Igwe Achese. The Union also stated that workers have the right to protest the non-payment of their salaries and allowances and that the Federal Government should secure the jobs of those working in the sector.

NUPENG also mentioned the case of Seawolf Oil Services that was taken over by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) where the workers have still not been paid their backlog of salaries and entitlements for over five years now.

NUPENG believed that the job creation mantra of the government should be allowed to play, rather than paving way for job losses as it is the case of Capital Oil closure now.

It called on the government to allow the workers to resume work at the depot and load products so that their salaries can be paid instead of throwing them into unemployment market for no fault of theirs.

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