Retired Staff of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and businessman, Engineer Obi Nwasike has been unconditionally released from EFCC captivity. Engr. Nwasike was released last week Wednesday shortly after his arrest by EFCC operatives upon his landing at the Murtala International Airport, Lagos.
Speaking through his lawyer, Barrister Ndubisi Chuks Nwasike, the businessman was unlawfully arrested and harassed despite his health challenges by the EFCC through the instructions of one of his business partners, Mr. Okwy Okeke, the Managing Director of Continental Alarm Limited (CLA).
“This is a clear case of witch-hunt by an embittered business partner whose nefarious activities has been discovered and exposed by my client. Engineer Nwasike had discovered that the Chief Executive Officer of Continental Alarm Limited and some other board members of the company were embezzling and misappropriating company fund.
They are also involved in some unethical business practices for which Engr. Nwasike being also a board member and in-fact the highest share holder of the company demanded explanation for. In order to avoid this, Mr. Okeke used some ready hands in the EFCC to harass and embarrass my client.”
Barr. Nwasike explained that his client, Engr. Nwasike through his company, Chester Mead Associates (CMA) bought 20% equity of the shares of CAL at the cost of $40,000.00 in the year 2000 when Engr. Nwasike was still a staff of Shell Petroleum.
“He used his experience, business acumen, influence and reputation in the oil and gas sector to grow and attract businesses for the CAL from Shell, Seplat Petroleum PLC, NAPIMS and NNPC. All these he did in good faith as a board member of CAL but what did he get in return, embarrassment and false accusation.”
He revealed that in the usual course of his client’s relationship with CAL, whenever the company executes contracts with Shell using the services and expertise of CAM, payment by shell on such contracts are usually remitted to CAM’s account which is managed wholly by Engr. Nwasike adding that, CAM has so far remitted over N180, 000,000.00 (One Hundred and Eighty Million Naira as proceeds from the contracts from Shell Plc to CAL through Mr. Okeke.
However, things went south when in 2015 when Engr. Nwasike demanded for a board meeting to discuss the deteriorated state of the finances of the company and foster a way to improve on it. He noted that prior to that time; CAL under the management of Mr. Okeke had never called any general meeting or board meeting of the company.
“When my client insisted that there be a board meeting to discuss issues regarding the company which included its indebtedness to Sterling bank, refusal of the CEO to pay basic emolument and benefits accrued to my client as an investor and other managerial issues, my client had to take a step to force the meeting by withholding his the sum of $114,595.40 (One Hundred and Fourteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Ninety-five US Dollars, Forty Cents) received from Shell insisting that if the meeting is not conveyed, the money will not be forwarded to CAL.
He further explained that after much pressure from Mr. Okeke and discovering that Engr. Nwasike would not budge, decided to organize the first board meeting which held on July 19, 2015 in the absence of all board members except Mr. Muhtar Bakare who was made a board member on August 15th 2014 without the knowledge or approval of the existing board of directors.
“Before the meeting, a spurious Statement of Account of the company was sent to my client which showed very clearly that Mr. Okeke as the Managing Director CAL as at December, 2014, paid to himself a total sum of USD 1, 020,000.00 (One Million and Twenty Thousand, United States Dollars) at US 20,000.00 every month, which sum equaled approximately 86.2 per cent of the entire money accruing to CLA from the Shell contracts acquired and performed through my client. This supposed salary was without the approval of the board of directors which shows a clear case of impunity and mismanagement on the part of Mr. Okeke” he said.
According to him, as at 8th of October, 2015, the total indebtedness on CAL’s account is N5,253,109.34 (Five Million, Two Hundred and Fifty -three Thousand, One Hundred and Nine Naira, Thirty Four Kobo.) which was borrowed from Sterling Bank Limited to execute contracts for shell.
He said that his client consequently registered his discontent with the statement of account stressing that he found the amount Mr. Okeke was paying himself “excessive” and rejected it particularly given the fact that the account was prepared by Mr. Okeke’s friend and not a registered professional auditor.
“We immediately wrote a letter to CAL and Mr. Okeke demanding the payment of my client’s entitlements and maintained that until it is paid CAM will be not release the Shell fund” he said.
According to him, Mr. Okeke resulted to intimidate and arm-twist Engr. Nwasike into releasing the funds to them making spurious allegations to the EFCC.
“My client was thereafter invited for questioning but could not honor the invitation as a result of his ill health. At the time he was receiving treatment in London but he mandated that we (His Lawyers) honor the invitation on his behalf and avail the EFCC of all the information they require.
“On October 5 2015, two other letters were sent from Engineer Nwasike’s care givers in London, informing the EFCC of Engr. Nwasike’s precarious medical condition and will be held back in London till further notice. We also stated in the letter that as Company Secretaries to Chester Mead Associates Limited, we will be available to assist in furnishing them with any clarification that they may require.
“I also sent letters to the EFCC clarifying my client’s corporate and commercial relationship between with Mr. Okeke and emphasized that in spite of the $40,000. (Forty Thousand US Dollars) investment made by CMA and Engr. Nwasike, they have not received any money as dividend or returns on investment while Mr. Okeke surreptitiously, accrued to himself $1,020,,000.00 in salary. We also informed them that that my client and CMA will be proceeding to court and advised the EFCC to realize that the courts or amicable arbitration shall resolve the dispute” he said.
Barr. Nwasike said he was however flabbergasted when the EFCC froze the accounts of CMA with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) and arrested its Financial Officer, Mr. Wole Owoeye. “On the 18th of January, 2016 CMA attempted to make a payment to some of its customers electronically through one of their bank accounts, but discovered that the banks’ system could not effect the payment.
“Unaware of the true position that the system was actually disabled by the banks, a financial officer of the CMA Mr. Owoeye, called the bank’s account officer Mr. Olumide, to know what the issue might be. Mr. Olumide did not disclose anything to him but rather advised him to visit the nearest GTB branch.
“Following Mr. Olumide’s advice, Mr. Owoye went to one of their bank’s branches at Port Harcourt to ascertain what the problem was. The bank officials collected his Identity Card, promising to assist him verify the issue and hopefully to resolve it within the shortest period of time, but without informing him, they invited the operatives of the EFCC, while keeping him in the bank for several hours.
“Upon the arrival of the operators of the EFCC Mr. Owoeye who is the Chief accountant of CMA, was arrested. He was detained overnight and by the following morning, he was transported in a car to Lagos.
“Mr. Owoeye was allegedly subjected to inhuman condition in the EFCC cell, he was unable to eat and sleep until his release on the 19th January 2016 when he was granted bail.
According to Barr. Nwasike, it was later revealed at EFCC offices in Port Harcourt and Lagos, that they ordered the Bank to freeze the account of the company because of allegations incedented by CAL and Mr. Okeke.
He noted that CMA’s GTB account had nothing to do with the relationship or business dealing the company has with CAL but was an arm-twist attempt by Mr. Okeke to bamboozle his client into releasing the Shell fund.
Barr. Nwasike pointed out that by their relationship with Mr. Okeke and CAL no evidence of crime, or even remote suspicion of crime ever arose to warrant the intervention of the EFCC.
He further said that his client has gone through untold emotional and psychological suffering in the hands of the EFCC and Mr. Okeke despite his health condition and is therefore demanding compensation of N160M while maintaining that Mr. Okeke returns the 1,020,000.00 (One Million and Twenty Thousand United States Dollars) that he surreptitiously paid to himself as salary or earnings as the Managing Director without the authority of the Board and directors and damages.