Vanguard (Lagos)

19 February 2013

Nigeria: Fuel Subsidy Scam - Court Quashes Suit Against Ubah

Lagos — Mr Ifeanyi Ubah,Managing Director, Capital Oil & Gas Ltd, yesterday, secured a major victory against Inspector General of Police and Federal Government, as a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, quashed the Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imokhuede Presidential Report on Fuel Subsidy and Police Interim Report that indicted him, (Ubah) on fuel subsidy.

The court also granted an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the police, either acting by themselves or their privies, from harassing, detaining or otherwise infringing on the fundamental rights of Ubah and N10 million in his favour as damages.

Ubah in the suit, had alleged infringement on his human rights, sought an order, setting aside the interim report issued by the Commissioner of Police, SFU, dated November 2, 2012.

Trial judge, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, said "An order of perpetual injunction is therefore, made restraining the respondents either by themselves or their privies, from arresting, detaining or otherwise harassing the applicant in any form whatsoever.

"The sum of N10 million is also awarded as damages against the respondents jointly and severally for infringing on the personal liberty of the applicant,"

On the issue that the police could not be restrained from discharging its duties, the court, held that the provisions of section 4 of the Police Act, was subject to overriding statutory provisions of the constitution, adding that the court had a duty to regulate public officers in the discharge of their duties, especially where it was not done in accordance with the law, and where the personal liberties of individuals were at stake.

The court held that the police must ensure that its duties were carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice, equity and good conscience and in line with laid down provisions of law, adding that it was the duty of the court to regulate the conduct of public officers in the dispensation of their duties.

Respondents in the suit were Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubarkar; Commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit, Mr Ayotunde Ogunsakin; Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr Aigboje Aig-Imokhuede and Managing Director, Coscharis Motors, Mr Cosmos Maduka.

Ubah in the suit, had argued that the interim report in which the Federal Government, had purported that the applicant would be arraigned on a prima facie case of money laundering and criminal conspiracy, was a prosecutorial misconduct.

He argued that another report dated November 3, 2012, in which it had stated that the report would be submitted in a case of stealing and economic sabotage, amounted to a breach of the applicant's fundamental right.

The applicant had also sought for a declaration, nullifying the complaint made by the Presidential Committee on Verification of Oil Subsidy Payment to oil marketers as tainted by malice, praying the court to perpetually restrain the IG and CP, SFU, from further harassing, arresting or instituting any criminal process against him and N10million as damages for his arrest and detention by the police for 10 days, far beyond the statutory times allowed for a person to be held without being charged to court.

The judge held on the issue of estoppel that the court was not estopped in any form whatsoever, from hearing the plaintiff's application.

The judge said that although a similar case may have been adjudicated upon before a brother judge in the same court, the substance and ingredient of both suits were entirely different.

On the issue of non service as contended by both counsel to Access bank and Coscharis Motors, the judge held that a proof of service of court process was an overwhelming evidence of service.

He held that the proof of the service of the court processes on the two respondents, were clearly exhibited in the court's file.

He therefore held that the proof of service, points to the fact that all respondents were duly served contrary to their claim.

"The proof of service in the court's file is a testimony to the service of processes on the respondents, and it stands unchallenged," the court said.

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