Founder and President of Belemaoil Producing Limited, operators of Oil Mining Lease 55, Mr Tein T. S. Jack-Rich, is facing a legal battle from two of his cousins over his alleged failure to pay overdue invoices, wrongfully terminating their contracts with the company and illegal dismissal.
In court documents seen by SaharaReporters on Thursday, one of the plaintiffs also accused Jack-Rich of failing to pay necessary severance allowances as stipulated in the deal with the oil firm.
In one of the cases involving Freyada International Limited run by Onengiyeofori Welsh, which is before the Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, the state capital, Jack-Rich is accused of refusing to pay the sum of N350,549,744 owed the company for providing offshore catering, laundry and housekeeping services including supply of toiletries to Belemaoil Producing, J+G Global Gas and Oil Field Limited, Concern Edge Limited and Skarf Limited – all subsidiaries of Belema Group.
According to top insiders, Jack-Rich and Belemaoil, which has over 300 cases in court and several petitions with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) due to his alleged deliberate refusal to pay vendors, has been using various tactics, including intimidation to frustrate the case in the Rivers court.
The company is said to have on a few occasions told the court that the matter had been agreed to be settled by both parties only for Jack-Rich to turn around to signify interest to continue the case – a strategy to slow the pace of the matter, according to legal experts.
In another case before the National Industrial Court, Port Harcourt, with suit no: NICN/PH/18/2021 and instituted by another of Jack-Rich's cousins, Ipalibo Welsh Mufaa, the Belemaoil founder was accused of wrongfully dismissing the claimant and refusing to pay all related entitlements ever since.
In a copy of the suit seen by SaharaReporters, Mufaa, who was director in charge of J+G Global Producing Company Limited, Belema Group Limited, Belema Refinery and Petrochemical Limited, accused his cousin of failing to honour the agreement he signed with him when he lured him away from Chevron Nigeria Limited where he worked for eight years and had a promising career ahead of him.
According to the claimant, the Belemaoil founder has only paid N140 million out of the agreed sum of N280 million he could have received from Chevron as benefits if he had seen out his employment with the oil giant.
Mufaa is asking for the sum of N32,250,000 representing his salary for one month in lieu of 30 days notice and severance pay for two months after he was forced to resign within 12 hours on May 17, 2020.
SaharaReporters was informed that efforts by the affected persons to get their entitlements from Jack-Rich have proven difficult as he allegedly continues to use his vast network of associates in high places to frustrate the case and intimidate them into backing down.
It was further gathered that a senior advocate earlier hired by Belemaoil for one of the cases later pulled out after discovering that the firm and its founder were insincere in their submissions.
However, apart from the legal battle with his cousins, Jack-Rich, it was discovered, is also facing another running tussle with his home community of Kula in Rivers State over his failure to pay royalties due the town as is the custom in oil-producing areas.
In a letter detailing their displeasure with the insincerity of Belemaoil and its owner in relation to its oil exploration activities in the community, the Kula Council of Chiefs accused Jack-Rich of using his resources to divide and impoverish his kinsmen.
They accused him of failing to agree to a general memorandum of understanding to solve community needs, interference in traditional administration and undermining King Sara stool as the Amayanabo of Kula Kingdom in the scheme of things.
According to the chiefs, Chevron and Shell, which both operated in the area before Belemaoil, paid N100 million development and administrative sum annually and also initiated several projects for the benefit of the natives during their respective periods of activities in Kula.
The chiefs alleged that Jack-Rich had been taking undue advantage of the fact that he is an indigene of Kula community to cause crisis among the people.
"Under your watch, all the gains achieved from your predecessor company Chevron Nigeria Limited and Shell Petroleum Development Company have eroded and the most annoying part is that you have by your activities interfered seriously and taken over the administration of Kula Kingdom.
"Your company now solely determines who gets what and who owns which territory. This means that whoever is not in your good books can never benefit from the wealth of Kula Kingdom.
"You also get involved in chieftaincy installations by sponsoring rival candidates to unseat those who are not in good stead with you now and be (sic) in the future.
"These scenarios portend great danger and frustrate our mutual co-existence. It is with a heavy heart that we say that we cannot continue to watch you and your company's activities cause communal upheaval and obliterate the common patrimony of our people."
The management of Belemaoil declined to comment on the matter when contacted by our correspondent.
A spokesperson for the oil firm, Mr Emeka Idika, said they would not comment as the matter was already in court.
Regarded as one of Nigeria's wealthiest men at the moment, Jack-Rich has not been very far from scandals over the years.
In January 2018, the Ogoni Community Development Network in Rivers State accused him of using a N139 million bribe to divide their people in an attempt to emerge as the operator of OML 11 and begin exploration activities in the area.
The money was alleged to have been paid to one Chief Gani Topba through a certain Tobin, who was said to be an aide to the Managing Director of Belemaoil at the time.
In February 2021, Jack-Rich was alleged to be having an adulterous affair with Nollywood actress, Destiny Etiko, with claims that he gifted her a multi-million naira Sports Utility Vehicle.
Both Etiko and the billionaire oil magnate denied the report.