Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court in Abuja Wednesday restrained the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from further investigating the Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah, over his involvement in the multibillion naira fuel subsidy fraud.
THISDAY learnt that the suit by Ubah was necessitated by the fact that EFCC was closing in on him over his involvement in the subsidy fraud and was preparing to arrest and arraign him.
Investigations by THISDAY showed that the injunction by Justice Kafarati was sequel to the judgment by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos, which last February quashed and set aside the Presidential Report on Fuel Subsidy by the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede and a police interim report that indicted Ubah for fuel subsidy fraud.
In quashing the report, Justice Aneke had held that it was not obtained under favourable conditions, as there was a conflict of interest arising from the Aig-Imoukhuede report.
He also faulted the police report compiled by the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Mr. Ayotunde Ogunsakin, who was also a member of the presidential task force which indicted Ubah for fuel subsidy fraud.
The court held that both Aig-Imokhuede and Ogunsakin were investigators and prosecutors at the same time and 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 the applicant.
The court consequently awarded Ubah the sum of N10 million for being detained for 10 days.
Ubah had filed a suit challenging the Presidential Report on Fuel Subsidy and his detention in custody.
Irrespective of Aneke’s ruling, EFCC two weeks ago had arrested Ubah for allegedly defrauding the federal government of over N43 billion through the fuel subsidy scheme. He was later released on administrative bail.
He was said to have been picked up from his Maitama mansion in Abuja and taken to EFCC’s head office, where he made a written statement before being released on bail later in the evening.
An EFCC source had said the commission moved against Ubah following his failure to honour previous invitations to answer questions on the subsidy fraud.
According to information made available to THISDAY, Ubah was first invited to meet with the operatives on April 11, but he failed, necessitating another invitation on April 19, which he also allegedly spurned.
The arrest was believed to be part of ongoing investigations and prosecution of persons and organisations that allegedly defrauded the federal government of about N1.7 trillion through dubious subsidy claims for the importation of petrol between 2010 and 2011.
Ubah on his part, had always denied his involvement in the fuel subsidy fraud, saying that his detractors had cooked up the story to tarnish his hard-earned reputation.
He accused Aig-Imoukhuede of bias and persecution, following what he called a “failed business deal” they had together.
Meanwhile, Ubah Wednesday night gave reasons why he went to court to secure the order, saying that it aimed at protecting his fundamental human rights.
In a statement issued by his lawyer, Afam Osigwe, the businessman said he had information that the EFCC planned to arrest, detain and prosecute him for an alleged offence for which he had been cleared.
He also stated that he was aware of plans by the EFCC to discredit him and make him lose credibility so as to frustrate his ambition to run for the Anambra State governorship election in 2014.
He said he did not need perpetual injunction to stop EFCC or any prosecutorial agency of the government because he had nothing to hide.
He said: "I instituted the action against the EFCC because the so-called investigation relates to a matter in respect of which I have been investigated and cleared by the SFU and a judgment of the Federal High Court. The investigation is therefore a mere witch-hunt with political undertones.
"I brought the above action to court because of my firm conviction that the so-called investigation was a witch-hunt intended to force me out of the gubernatorial race in my home state of Anambra.
"It is instructive to note that since about March 2013 when I declared my intention to contest in the gubernatorial election in Anambra State scheduled for 2014 as well as commenced consultations towards realising the ambition there has been no let up in the use of every machinery of state to intimidate me into withdrawing from the race.
"This is not surprising as the current Governor of the state is a known acolyte of some members of the Federal Executive Council of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and therefore has influence over some Government Agencies especially the EFCC."