‘Why Nigeria’s fight against oil theft may be at risk’
• Tompolo’s Oil Surveillance Firm Bemoans EFCC’s Detention Of Operations Head
• Alleges Commission Pressurising Him For Intelligence Asset
The operatives of the Tantita security outfit belonging to former Commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, High Chief Government Tompolo has raised the alarm that its operations have been endangered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Tantita Security Limited is in the forefront of the campaign against massive theft of the nation’s oil resources by a virulent cabal comprising people within and outside the country.
The company alleged in a statement yesterday that the EFCC arrested and has been detaining its Director of Operations and Technical, Capt. Warredi Enisuoh, who plays a pivotal road in the N48 billion pipeline surveillance contract in Lagos since January 19, 2023.
The company said that while it is resolute and resilient in its fight against the criminal diversion of the nation’s resources, it is aware of efforts being made to strangulate its operations.
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,” the statement said.
The company alleged that some powerful forces in the country are hiding behind operatives of the EFCC to use the commission to scuttle the intensified action against the theft of Nigeria’s oil resources in the country.
It alleged further that since its Director of Operations and Technical honoured the invitation by the EFCC, and was detained, all efforts to get him out have proved abortive.
The surveillance firm said that the EFCC invitation came in the middle of an ongoing operation to uncover one of the biggest oil stealing cartels in the country.
“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. Enisuoh 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.
“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 in 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.”
The firm explained that Enisuoh had four cases with anti graft commission out of which he won four. It was stated that Capt Enisuoh got a judgment of the Court of Appeal CA/L/1320/2016 delivered on 25/11/2017 to access his bank accounts which were frozen by the EFCC.
The firm said further that in September 2022, one month after Tantita began operations, the EFCC invited Enisuoh and asked him how he gained access to the accounts.
The statement alleged further that the EFCC is giving a condition to Capt Enisuoh to provide the names of those who received money from the account, which he did not, as the persons concerned were intelligence assets who provided valuable intelligence and need to be protected.
Tracing the history of the current rift with the commission, the company tells its story.
“Sometimes in 2015/2016, the EFCC commenced four 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 Justice Faji of the Federal High Court, Lagos. Before these cases were instituted, the EFCC issued orders to various banks to block all 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, which overturned the second 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 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 further 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 five 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.
“In spite 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 – five 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 organisation is open to institutional capture and of 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.
“Because Capt Warredi refused to divulge names 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 administrative bail before the EFCC since the 6th of September 2022). They have continued to hold him claiming he is being uncooperative.”