Tantita has been in the news for the amazing progress being made in returning Nigeria to its pride of place as the leading oil producer in Africa.
However, as we speak, efforts are being made to strangulate Tantita operations.
On the 19th of January 2023, Tantita’s Executive Director Operations and Technical Capt. Warredi Enisuoh was invited by the EFCC and detained. He has been in EFCC custody since. All efforts to ensure his release has proved abortive, as the Commission has insisted that unless he provides a list of names who were his intelligence sources he would not be released.
The EFCC’s invitation came right in the middle of an ongoing operation to unravel one of the biggest oil stealing cartels in this country. Capt Warredi Enisuoh, our ED Operations and Technical flew straight from Port Harcourt (where he was coordinating the operations) to Lagos to heed the EFCC’s invitation and walked right into a trap.
What is the genesis of the EFCC invitation?
Sometime in 2015/2016, the EFCC commenced 4 cases against Capt Warredi and several others. Of the four, three have been concluded, all in favour of Capt Warredi. The last one is presently ongoing before Honourable Justice Faji of the Federal High Court Lagos. Before these cases were instituted, the EFCC issued orders to various banks to block all Capt Enisuoh’s bank accounts. He challenged this administrative order in court on the basis that the EFCC has no power to freeze accounts without a court order and the Federal High Court lifted the freeze orders. The banks failed to comply, so he brought contempt proceedings against them, somehow the new judge handling the contempt proceedings froze the accounts again. Capt Warredi appealed to the Court of Appeal who overturned the 2nd judge and restored the orders of the first judge. Based on that judgment of the Court of Appeal in CA/L/1320/2016 delivered on 25/11/2017 the banks allowed Capt Warredi access to his accounts. The EFCC which was the 1st Respondent before the Court of Appeal in that case never appealed the judgment.
Then in September 2022, one month after Tantita began operations, the EFCC invited Capt Warredi and asked him how he gained access to the accounts. He showed them certified true copies of the judgment of the Court of Appeal, they also asked him to make statements, which he did and pointed out that the questions bordered on the ongoing trial before the Federal High Court Lagos, the investigating team led by Mr. Lawal Aminu claimed to be unaware of the case, so he provided a certified true copy of the charge and pointed out that the prosecution was being led by Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, a staff of the EFCC. He declined to make furthr statements on a matter sub judice.
However as the war against oil thieves firmed up many of them have continued to threaten that those trying to stop their nefarious business would pay dearly for it. For the avoidance of doubt, the judgment of the Court of Appeal was delivered in 2017, more than 5 years ago. Again, Capt Warredi is undergoing a full trial, would it not be better to let the courts decide who is right and who is wrong?
Apparently not so for the EFCC investigation team and the legal department being led by Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN. The same Rotimi whose wife became a staff of Search and Rescue Clinic of NIMASA at the very time he was leading investigation and prosecution of “criminals” at NIMASA. Maybe it was all coincidence. Just the way it is coincidence that in the middle of the biggest investigation of a ship owning oil stealing cartel, the EFCC is asking Capt Warredi to name his intelligence sources.
Inspite of all the documents earlier provided to EFCC, on Thursday the 19th of January 2023, the EFCC again invited Capt Warredi and detained him. Their position was that Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN had read the judgment of the Court of Appeal and he did not agree with the decision of the Appeal Court. That he believes that the Court was wrong and as such Capt Warredi should refund the money withdrawn from his accounts or he would rot in jail – 5 years after the Court of Appeal settled the issue, without complain from the EFCC.
The most dangerous entity in a democracy is a law enforcement agency that has no regards for the rule of law. Such an organization is open to institutional capture and to being used as a tool in the hands of those seeking to destroy the nation.
According to Mr. Lawal Aminu, in the opinion of Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN Capt Warredi after obtaining judgment at the Court of Appeal should have come to beg the EFCC to permit him to access his accounts and his failure to do so was criminal. According to Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN it is when the EFCC becomes aware of a judgment that it takes effect and since the EFCC was not informed by Capt Warredi before he accessed his accounts he is guilty of interfering with the subject matter of investigation – the charge they intend to prefer on Monday 23rd of January 2023. It is on this trumped up allegation that the EFCC has detained Capt Warredi for more than the 24 hours constitutionally allowed.
Initially the EFCC dangled bail before Capt Warredi on the condition he divulged the names of persons who were paid out of the accounts. Capt Warredi pointed out that in addition to the fact that the matter was presently undergoing trial in court, the persons concerned were intelligence assets who provided valuable intelligence and need to be protected.
Moreover, some of these people are still providing intelligence in our ongoing operations at Tantita. Compromising their details will not only blow their cover but interfere with the ongoing war against oil thieves.
Because Capt Warredi refused to divulge name of intelligence assets the EFCC refused to release him or grant him bail (even though he was already on bail before a Court of law, as well as on administratively before the EFCC since the 6th of September 2022). They have continued to hold him claiming he is being uncooperative.
While Tantita is determined to carry on the fight against the oil thieves regardless, it is our position that the EFCC investigation, if genuine, can be carried out with minimal interference to the war on oil thieves and if not, it is clearly being used by powerful forces to scuttle the war on oil thieves. Let Nigerians be aware of what is being done in their name.
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