As you read this, the court case between Ecobank Nigeria Limited and Debt Management Office has taken a new twist. The lawyer representing Ecobank has maintained his position by praying that the court jails the Director General of Debt Management Office, Abraham Nwankwo.
This development has left five important questions unanswered. The public have risen up against this and are asking for answers. The people want the answers to these questions:
- How do they protect the DMO and the DG against the attack of the other five entities that are also pursuing their own respective suits in other courts, contesting for the money attached to the same claim of Deepwater Discovery Limited?
- The absurdity and irregularity of asking DMO to transfer money belonging to Deepwater to their account with Ecobank whereas DMO does not have any money to transfer and is not responsible for payments; it only issues Sovereign Debt Notes (SDNs), as mandated by the PPPRA and approved by the Minister?
- DMO does not handle money relating to petroleum subsidy claims and has never been responsible for transferring money to any oil marketer. So how can it obey this inapplicable order?
- Ecobank is also encouraged by the claim of Kunle Ogunba that the Attorney General of the Federation has directed DMO in writing, for the second time, to pay the sums of money to Ecobank, not minding that DMO neither keeps nor pays money relating to oil marketers, such as Deepwater?
Observers are of the opinion that the reinforcement of attacks on the persons of the DG and his officer is targeted to constrain them to release the SDN (not money) to Ecobank and their lawyer, if they want to save their heads.
It would be recalled that Ecobank Nigeria Limited recently accused the Nwankwo and the agency’s officer directly in charge of processing fuel subsidy claims by oil marketers, Umaru Abubakar, of frustrating its move to recover a huge debt allegedly owed it by an oil marketing firm, First Deepwater Discovery Limited.
The DMO is the agency of the Federal Government which processes fuel subsidy claims by oil marketers or issuing them with what is called sovereign debt notes.
The bank had claimed that Deepwater Discovery Limited had a cumulative fuel subsidy claim of about N1.8 billion with DMO, out of which it claimed that N845 million plus was due for payment.
Yunusa had in the said order directed DMO to, among other things, transfer with dispatch the sum of N845 million plus due to Deepwater into its account with Ecobank to offset part of the alleged debt the oil marketing firm allegedly owed the bank.
But the agency in its response said that the monies for which Ecobank is seeking the court to commit the DG of DMO to prison is the subject of dispute between the following parties who all have a court order/judgment demanding the DMO to pay the same money to them.
The other companies battling for the same monies from First Deep Water Discovery Limited in court include: First Bank of Nigeria PLC, Stallionaire Energy Limited, Olive Energy Limited, Bargamo Shipping Limited, Sulphur Stream Limited, Faiceck Petroleum Limited.