By Our reporter
In a bid to safeguard their right, ten staffs of Standard Alliance Assurance Company namely, Kadiri Oladele, Dare Shoende, Austin Enajemo-Isire, Olorogun G.O.Emerhor, Chika Onwuchekwa, Olaogun Olushina Moses, Blessing Iyayi Ana, Bode Akinboye, Kadiri Ijerembe Emmanuel and Johnson Eguchukwu have dragged indigenous Oil company, Midwestern Oil & Gas Company Limited before a Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly using the Police as a debt recovery agent.
However, the oil company is alleging that the insurance company is out to defraud it.
Joined as co-respondents in the fundamental right enforcement suit are Inspector General of Police and Commissioner of Police, Police Special Fraud Unit.
In an affidavit deposed to by Dare Shoende, chief finance officer of Standard Alliance Assurance Company, and filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Olushola Felix Abidakun, the deponent averred that sometimes in February 2012, Standard Alliance Assurance Company introduced a staff gratuity scheme for the establishment of fund for the provision of the benefits for its permanent employees.
Policy document was issued in favour of Midwestern Oil & Gas Company dated 25th of September 2012 for a period of one year but renewable every year.
However, Shoende said that on 25 September 2017 his company received a letter from the oil company of notice to discontinue the said policy with effect from 30 September 2017 and demanded for a refund of all monies accrued to it. As at 25 September 2017 when the policy was discontinued, the total money accrued to the company was N719,234,114.84.
A settlement meeting was held where the company was given proposed settlement schedule on how to refund all the monies due and payable to the oil company, thereafter the insurance company paid a total sum of N139,904,639.36,to date leaving an outstanding balance of N579,329,475.51.
But contrary to the policy document signed by the parties and settlement arrangement, the il company petitioned the Commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit on a purely civil and contractual obligations against the staffs of the insurance company.
Commissioner of Police Special Fraud Unit has written several invitation letters to the applicants as well as threatening arrest and detention if they failed to pay the outstanding indebtedness to the Oil Company.
Consequently, the applicants averred that unless the respondents are restrained by the court, they will continue to harass and violate the fundamental rights of the applicants to freedom of movement, personal liberty and dignity of human person.
The applicants while demanding for compensation of N5million for wrongful violation of their fundamental rights urged the court to declare that the Police action of embarking on debt recovery for Midwestern Oil and Gas Limited is totally outside the scope of their duties as provided for under Section 4 of the Police Act and therefore, illegal, unconstitutional and tantamount to gross misconduct.
Also, the applicants are seeking the order of the court restraining the respondents from further intimidation.
However, in a counter affidavit sworn to by a legal officer of Midwestern Oil and Gas Limited, Rotimi Adejoorin, the company while denying almost all the depositions of the applicants alleged that the total money outstanding in the scheme was N730,514,791.60 and all entreaties and demand of the company with respect to payment of the money were not responded to.
The company petitioned the National Insurance Commission following which a meeting was held where Standard Alliance Life Assurance issued a cheque to defray part of its indebtedness but it was returned unpaid.
Consequently, Midwestern Oil and Gas Limited lodged a petition against Standard Alliance on the gratuity scheme fraud perpetuated against it to Commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit to investigate the fraudulent activities of the insurance firm as it relates to its intention to defraud it.
Adejoorin averred further that the Police have power and authority under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to invite the applicants while considering the merit or otherwise of the petition of the company. He then urged the court in the interest of justice not to grant the applicants’ reliefs.
The presiding judge, Saliu Saidu has adjourned for the hearing of the case.