By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna
A firm, Eleme Petrochemicals Co-operatives and Credit Society Limited has expressed concerns over the harassment and intimidation metted against its members by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The firm lamented that EFCC has continued to infringe on the rights of its members by denying them access to their funds in the bank, an action that goes against a subsisting court order.
Hon. Justice N.E Maha, had in a Court judgment on 15th day of January ordered that the restriction placed on the account of Eleme petrochemicals co-operatives and investment and credit society be lifted.
However, the order was disobey due to alleged threats from EFCC.
According to Eleme Petrochemicals Co-operatives and Credit Society Limited, the bank is demanding that the co-operative signs an indemnity against claims by the EFCC before obliging to honour its obligations to the cooperative a demand that is contrary to the contract between a bank and its customer and against all extant rules of banking.
It noted that while the co-operative had written to the bank to explain if there is any court order served on them by the EFCC restricting it from honoring its obligations to the cooperative, the bank has not produced any such order but could only refer to harassment from EFCC.
It said that having failed in that regards, the EFCC has resorted to intimidating First Bank PLC to act against the court order that allows the co-operatives to operate their account without any restriction.
Recall that on February 26, 2009 the federal government through the National Council on Privatization had approved the sale of 10% of its equity shares in Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals ltd, Port Harcourt, Rivers State to the host community and interested staff of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals ltd, while the battle for the ownership of shares continues.
The 10% equity shares was shared as 7.5% was allotted to the host community while the remaining 2.5% was allotted to the Staff of Indoroma Eleme Petrochemicals.
Problem began in 2013 when 10 staffs who initially subscribed to the purchase of the 2.5 equity shares had their jobs terminated from the employment of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals.
Indoroma Petrochemicals since then began a legal battle as to whether the laid off staff can continue to enjoy the dividends since they were not longer staff in the company and in so doing seeks to replace laid off staff with new recruited staff.
When the shareholding became an issue the laid of staff approached the River State Ministry of Commerce and Industry to arbitrate between it and the cooperative, the Ministry gave an Arbitral Award in favor of the laid off staff and as a result the exited staff of the co-operative approached the federal high court to enforce the arbitral award and as required by law, it was granted and the award became a judgment of the Federal High Court.
The newly recruited staff been instigated by their employers Indoroma Eleme Petrochemicals Company limited approached the National Industrial Court saying that the arbitral award was illegally procured, the right thing to do was to appeal the Federal High Court judgement, the industrial court in striking the case out stated that it can not sit on an appeal over a matter that has been decided by a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction.
The newly recruited staff have filed an Appeal over the decision of the Industrial court.
The EFCC, however, started to investigate the ownership of the shares of the cooperative after the cases at the Federal high court and the Industrial Court had been decided.
The cases pending in various Courts over the ownership of the shares of Indorama was triggered by the BPE which was a party sued in case at the Industrial court, when it petitioned the EFCC over the matter at the instigation of the newly recruited staff of the Indorama and Indorama itself.
The EFCC has despite the judgment of the Federal High Court which confirmed the shareholding of the exited staff, has continued to intimidate the exited staff and the cooperative this also despite the orders of justice Taiwo .O .Taiwo of the Federal high court in Suit FHC/ABJ/SC/1222/2020 granting an Order stopping the EFCC from arresting, inviting ,detaining and prosecuting or inquiring into the acquisition of shares of Indoroma Petrochemicals ltd.