Thursday, May 25, 2017 2:57 pm
Two Nigerian courts on Thursday gave contradictory rulings on an application filed by oil magnate and newspaper publisher, Mr Ifeanyi Ubah who is also the Chairman of Capital Oil to be set free from the custody of the Department of State Security (DSS).
Ubah was arrested by the DSS on May 5 over alleged diversion of petrol kept on his tank farm in Lagos by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The NNPC had claimed that the petrol kept in Ubah’s farm valued at N11 billion was diverted by the Capital oil boss, an action which it said was an attempt to cause scarcity of the product in the country.
The oil magnate has been in the custody of the secret police since his arrest.
Ubah had consequently filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed against the DSS, its Director-General, and others at a Federal High Court, Lagos presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris asking the court to order the Service to release him or charge him to court.
But the DSS has refused to bring the Capital Oil Chairman to court despite the order of the Judge in the two times the case has come up at the Lagos Federal High Court.
The Judge had earlier dismissed a preliminary objection filed by DSS, challenging Court’s jurisdiction to entertain Ubah’s suit.
But less than two hours later, a Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, sitting in Jabi gave a contrary ruling, this time in an application filed by the DSS.
Ruling in an ex-parte application brought before him by the Counsel to DSS, Mr G. O. Agbadua, Justice Yusuf Halilu of FCT High Court said it is necessary to grant DSS request to detain Ubah for another 14 days in the interest of justice.
The Judge said the extension of the period of detention will allow the DSS to carry out more investigations on the case against the Capital oil boss.
According to him, the court had no power to disallow the agency from doing its work, stressing that the rule of law must prevail in the interest of justice.
The FCT High Court Judge had earlier dismissed an application by Ubah praying the court to set aside its earlier order of May 10, which granted leave to DSS to detain the defendant in the agency custody.
Mrs Ifeoma Esom, the Counsel to the defendant had also prayed the court to set aside it order of May 10 granting leave to the DSS to detain Ubah before the Judge granted application of the secret police on Thursday.
“Nobody will stop the DSS from doing its work; the court has no power to grant such order by Ubah to release him conditionally or unconditionally,” Justice Halilu said while dismissing the request.
“The DSS must always know that the rule of law thrives in this country, Ubah’s order was obtained lawfully but is hereby dismissed,’’ he added.