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SDS, Sahara Reporters and Bad Media

sahara reporters

Recently the image of  Smart Drilling Services Ltd (SDS) an indigenous oil servicing firm in Nigeria and the reputation of a number of her directors was the subject of an orchestrated media attack sustained by a former Managing Director of SDS, Mr Ukpai I. Ukpai and Sahara Reporters.

In an article titled ‘ Rejoinder: SDS Company Executive Seized From Court Premises, Wrongfully Detained” by one Awa Kalu, it was alleged that the former MD had been seized from court premises and is being wrongfully detained.

The article written by a faceless person who opted to use a pseudonym as well as a distant location of Helsinki, Finland to drag the image of SDS and her directors in the mud alleged that Mr Ukpai had been seized in commando style and was illegally detained on the orders of some directors owing to the ongoing legal battle over control of SDS. 

The article was typical of all hatchet jobs, shoddy, without facts and an attempt to hoodwink whoever came across such an article that such a brazen act was actually carried out. Most laughable was when the hack writer threatened to use Ohafia war dancers to invade the towns of these Directors, in this 21st century!

Because my name was mentioned in the said article and for the benefit of clearing all doubts and the need to inform the public properly, I have taken the pains to investigate the allegations which I found to be all tissue of lies and half truths. 

The writer’s first error or attempt to be mischievous was in the claim that Mr. Ukpai had co-founded  Smart Drilling services Ltd (SDS) in 2012.  Nothing can be further from the truth as Mr. Ukpai was never a co-founder, rather he was allotted five percent of the share capital of SDS for which he couldn’t pay for. Thus his emergence as MD was by virtue of the board of directors employing him to do the job  based on an approved job description  . Now in tandem with the process of corporate business, one would agree that the same board which hired him is also empowered to remove him and this was done unanimously and within the laid down norms guiding corporate governance. The removal of Mr. Ukpai was not borne out of malice or the fictitious reasons offered by Mr Kalu but due to the fact that Mr. Ukpai later proved to be incompetent as he lacked leadership and the  organizational skills required to run a 21st century firm like SDS as well as the fact that he was also  fraudulent in his dealings. Following the termination of his appointment, the board of SDS negotiated with Mr Ukpai, in good faith, a severance package for which he duly agreed and received such payments. It is therefore mischievous for Sahara Reporters to still refer to Mr. Ukpai as the MD when he had been duly relieved of his duties and had benefited from a severance package in that right!

The writer again accused certain directors of master minding a commando like kidnap of Mr. Ukpai. One would have believed this canard if Nigeria was indeed a banana republic where anything goes. Truth however is that Mr. Ukpai was arrested by officers of the Nigerian police for defrauding Ixoric Energy Services to the tune of twenty one million, two hundred and seventeen thousand , eighty six Naira ninety five kobo (21, 217,086.95) and also for stealing a Kia Cerato car belonging to SDS. It is important to note here that for the past six months the Nigerian police had been inviting Mr Ukpai to present himself for questioning on the matter.  Like someone with a skeleton in his cupboard, Mr. Ukpai skillfully evaded the police until he was eventually apprehended at the court premises. So much for a man who was described by the hatchet writer in Kalu as “an honest man who wants to do things the right way! “

Mr. Ukpai was immediately questioned by the police and charged to Port Harcourt Magistrate Court in Charge Number PMC/1606c/2015 and arraigned on 16 December 2015. Mr Ukpai was granted bail but remanded in prison until he had fulfilled the conditions set for his bail.

Anyone who knows Mr. Ukpai well will know that he is a master conman. A man who takes advantage of the goodwill of others to enrich himself. When SDS was formed, Mr. Ukpai complained about his health and pleaded that he be allowed to work from home. Even though this was against the company’s policy, he was obliged on health grounds. Later on, Mr Ukpai was to present the board with an astronomical bill as rent while working from his home! This at the initial stage caused some friction but finally the board agreed to pay Mr. Ukpai off and moved SDS to a rented space. 

The hack writer and readers here should also ask Mr. Ukpai the following questions.

Why was he (Ukpai) sacked by the following firms, Schlumberger D &M, Halliburton Energy Services, Baker Nigeria Ltd and by his employees in Norway before he was deported by the authorities in Norway?

Why was he deported from Norway? Did he return to Nigeria with any money? If yes, how much? Who took care of him while he was sick and who eventually did he work for?

This is a man who attempted to mortgage the happiness of his wife and children for his personal gain causing the poor woman and her children to separate themselves from him. This same man was also excommunicated by the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria. 

Well meaning Nigerians should  frown at the attempts by a set of disgruntled persons including  Sahara Reporters to rubbish a Nigerian firm’s hard earned image. It is most unfortunate that Sahara Reporters which had earlier started well as a medium for justice, truth and the upholding of public good has chosen to play a most ignoble role in this matter. The media owes it as a duty to society to pursue truth always, any other path taken will further portray the media, particularly online media which has recently come under great scrutiny as the flotsam and jetsam of any society. A description most unworthy of the power of the media and new media.  

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