This Day (Lagos)

15 November 2012

Nigeria: London Court Freezes Ubah's Assets Worldwide

Photo: Vanguard
Cartoonist depicts corruption in Nigerian petroleum sector

A London High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, has placed a worldwide order (mareva injunction) against the assets of Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah and his company, Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited.

This is just as the feud between Ubah and the Chairman of Coscharis, Mr. Cosmos Maduka, has taken a new twist as the Capital Oil boss Wednesday sent a petition to the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, alleging threats to his life. He demanded the arrest of Maduka over the alleged threat.

The order by the UK court, which was granted sequel to an application by Access Bank Plc, is aimed at preserving the assets of the respondents pending the determination of the suit brought before it by the bank.

The bank had alleged that Ubah and his company had fraudulently diverted the petroleum products it financed under the joint venture agreement between Capital Oil and Coscharis Motors Limited.

Also restrained alongside Ubah and Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, are Rofos Navigation Limited, Xifias Navigation Limited, Heli Navigation Limited and Tutbury Maritime Limited.

THISDAY checks revealed that the order of the UK court, obtained last Friday, was given three days after Ubah and his company obtained a similar injunction in Nigeria restraining the bank and Coscharis Motors Limited from interfering with his assets.

The court, presided over by Mr. Justice Cooke, ordered that until the return date or further order of the court, Ubah and company, Capital Oil, must not remove from England, Wales or any other part of the United Kingdom, any of their assets which are in England and Wales valued at over $133 million or in any way dispose of, deal with or diminish the value of any of their assets up to the same value.

The injunction covers the following assets: The property and assets of the respondent's business known as Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited at 1, Capital Oil Close, Westminster; Ibru Jetty Complex, Ibafon Apapa, Lagos State; or the sale of the money, if any of them have been sold.

The court also ordered that until a further order of the court, the respondent and each of the parties are prohibited from taking any steps whatsoever, whether directly or indirectly, to dissipate, dispose or in any way impinge on Access Bank's right in and to any product covered by six Bills of Lading dated October 8, 2011, October 14, 2011, October 18, 2011, November 10, 2011, November 13, 2011, and December 21, 2011 including (but not limited) to products that have been and will be received into the shore tanks at Apapa, Lagos, and in particular, approximately 40,000 metric tonnes received in June/or August 2012.

The court further directed that Ubah and Capital Oil should within seven days of service of the order swear and serve on Access Bank's solicitors an affidavit of all their assets worldwide exceeding £50,000 in value whether in their own names or not and whether solely or jointly owned, giving the value, location and details of such assets.

It noted that failure by the respondents to comply with the orders of the court would be tantamount to contempt of court.

The court also spelt out other consequences, which the respondents would face should they fail to comply with the orders to include being fined or have their assets seized.

The court further added that Ubah and officers of the company could be sent to prison and their assets seized should they fail to obey the orders.

The order of the court warned thus: "If you Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited disobey this order, you may be held to be in contempt of court and may be fined or have your assets seized and your officers may be sent to prison, be fined or have their assets seized.

"If you Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah, disobey this order, you may be held to be in contempt of court and may be imprisoned, fined or have your assets seized.

"Any other person who knows of this order and does anything which helps or permits either of the respondents to breach the terms of the order may also be held to be in contempt of court and may be imprisoned, fined or have their assets seized."

The court adjourned further hearing in the suit until November 16, 2012.

But Ubah, in a letter written to the IG through his counsel, Robinson Apkua, alleged that Maduka has been threatening his life.

The letter reads: "We are solicitors to Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Ltd. and on whose behalf and mandate we write this petition.

"We write to formally inform you about the libellous publications against our client and also threats to his life by Chief Cosmas Maduka of Coscharis Group.

"Our client informed us that sometime in 2011 he entered into a business transaction with Maduka. The business was flourishing until Maduka became dissatisfied with the outcome of the business, consequent upon which he has filed a petition to your office.

"While your men are investigating the matter, which is purely a civil contractual relationship with its attendant rights and liabilities, Maduka went on air - Channels Television and AIT - to slander our client.

"He called our client all sorts of names ranging from a thief to an international fraudster. As though that was not enough and still not allowing your men to do their job, Maduka took four pages in some national newspapers libelled our client and repeated his slander.

"Our client's life is now being threatened as he receives anonymous calls urging him to pay those he owes, while also receiving text messages from unknown persons demanding that he must share the 'loot' apparently in reference to Maduka's allegation that he (Ubah) duped him of billions of naira.

"May we point out that our client has neither been convicted of any crime by any court law nor has he been adjudged liable for any breach of contractual business relationship with anyone, including Maduka."

Ubah's counsel asked the IG to cause the arrest of Maduka, investigate the libellous publications and cause him to write a letter of apology within seven days or face legal action.

Apkua also asked the IG to warn Maduka to desist from further libellous publications against his client pending the conclusion of the police investigation and pending court case or he risks contempt of court.

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