Nigeria’s secret police, the State Security Services, SSS, also known as DSS, have recommended death penalty for the chief executive officer of Capital Oil, Ifeanyi Ubah for allegedly diverting about 80 million liters of petrol, kept in his custody by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
The DSS on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 told a court in Lagos that what Ubah allegedly did amounted to economic sabotage, punishable by death. It added that the the oil businessman intention was to plunge the country into economic chaos by creating widespread scarcity of the product worth about N11 billion.
The DSS stated its position in a counter-affidavit to Ubah’s application asking a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to order his release from detention.
Ubah has been detained by the DSS for 14 days following justice Yusuf Halilu’s order for the agency to keep him pending the completion of its investigation into the matter.
“The respondent (Ubah) was arrested on reasonable suspicion of his involvement in the commission of crime. He converted PMS, belonging to the NNPC, kept in the custody of his tank farm, to his personal use.
“The action of the respondent is sabotage of NNPC’s activities as it relates to the distribution of petroleum products. If not for the urgent steps taken by the Federal Government, the action of the respondent would have plunged the country into widespread scarcity with its attendant effect on the economy.
“Petroleum is the lifeblood of the Nigerian economy. NNPC is a major stakeholder in the petroleum industry in Nigeria. An attack on the Nigerian economy is an economic threat to national security dimension.
“The Nigerian populace will suffer untold hardship if NNPC is unable to discharge its statutory responsibilities, including distribution of petroleum products as well as generating revenue for the country,” the affidavit deposed by Safwan Bello read.
DSS’s lawyer, Mr G. Agbadua, told the court that the act was punishable by death under the Petroleum Production and Distribution (Anti-Sabotage) Act, 2004.
He stated, “The action of the respondent (Ubah) to sabotage the distribution of petroleum products is a capital offence under the Petroleum Production and Distribution (Anti-Sabotage) Act, 2004.
“The punishment of sabotage under this Act attracts death penalty. It is clear that the respondent was arrested for the conversion of the property of the NNPC. It is not just ordinary stealing, it is stealing of the lifeblood of the nation.
“Oil is the major source of revenue of the Federal Government. Stealing of the revenue is a crime against the economic interest of Nigeria and therefore, falls within the purview of economic threat of national security dimension.”
Ubah had applied to the court to set aside the detention order, arguing among others, that the court was misled by the DSS, which allegedly suppressed material facts from the court.