* Wants President to probe bias, impunity by Police High Command
* Says police conniving with CAC, Sen Obiora to destroy DTN
* Seeks public hearing by NASS over DTN ownership
The Management of Folio Communications Limited, owners of Daily Times of Nigeria (DTN) has written a petition to President Muhammdau Buhari in which it alleged that Police High Command and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) were colluding with a former lawmaker, Sen. Ikechukwu Obiora, to illegally change the ownership of DTN and possess its assets.
In the petition titled, “Urgent Appeal to Investigate and Address Gross Injustice, Abuse of Office and Connivance by Police High Command and Corporate Affairs Commission to Destroy Daily Times of Nigeria,” Folio alleged that Obiora is using the Police to arrest both management and members staff of DTN as well as circulating fake documents in desperate attempt to annex landed properties of the company.
The letter, which was dated January 24, 2018 and signed by Chairman of Folio Communications, Mr. Fidelis Anosike, narrated how DTN offices in Abuja and Lagos were raided and ransacked with the Publisher, Group Managing Director, members of staff and reporters arrested and detained for many days.
Apart from the President, Anosike also petitioned Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen and the Chairman, Police Service Commission.
Anosike also wrote to the Minister Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Newspaper Proprietors of Nigeria (NPAN).
In the petitions, Anosike said that Folio Communications Limited bided for and bought DTN in a widely publicised and transparent privatisation process executed by the Federal Government, saying that DTN was duly handed over to Folio Communications in September, 2004.
He added that a minority shareholder in DTN later relinquished such minority shares to a company in which Ikechukwu Obiora had interest for which Obiora has done everything possible to convert DTN to himself including going to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with forged documents to change ownership of the company which the courts have severally declared illegal.
The petition to the President reads in part, “Obiora has initiated several criminal cases against us and DTN, all of which have been dismissed including by a Lagos State High Court, a Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal. In dismissing the cases, the courts expressly declared that the issues in dispute are purely civil and not criminal in nature.
“It is for that he cannot have DTN that Ikechukwu Obiora resorted to obtaining injustice from the back door by running to a Magistrates’ Court in Mpape, Abuja with active connivance of the Police High Command led by DIG Hyacinth Dagala to commit this high level of impunity, injustice and gross abuse of judicial process on a case that has been dismissed by superior courts, severally.
“We wish to inform Mr. President that the Police High Command played active roles in the abuse and victimisation of the Publisher, management and members staff of DTN with direct supervision of the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Force Investigation and Intelligence Department.
“It is important to state here that DTN was completely dead before Folio Communications Limited bought it through a transparent privatisation process. All its equipment were unserviceable. We have over the years invested billions of Naira to resuscitate and reposition the DTN and make it a brand. The intention is to restore its lost glory as the face of Nigeria and viable brand.
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“The activities of Ikechukwu Obiora in connivance with the Police and Corporate Affairs Commission has had; and continued to have huge but negative impact on the progress of DTN. Such impunities meted against investors by privileged individuals and authorities like the Nigeria Police and Corporate Affairs Commission should be of grave concern to the federal government as they combine to scare away genuine investors at a time that the Federal Government is putting much efforts and resources to positively change the perception of Nigeria and Ease of Doing Business in the country.”
Attaching all relevant documents related to the purchase of DTN including receipts of payment and Shares Purchase Agreement (SSA), Anosike also informed the President and others that a dispute between Folio Communications and Ikechukwu Obiora on DTN ownership was resolved in 2006 following intervention of some stakeholders in the media industry after which a consent judgement was granted by a Federal High Court in 2006. He added that Obiora has continued to act in breach of both the Statement of Agreement and the Consent Judgement.
“We have gone through many legal battles over the years on this same matter both civil and criminal most of which were initiated by Ikechukwu Obiora, in spite of the Consent Judgement arising from the amicable settlement of April, 2006.
“It is however of importance to state that we have won all the cases so far while others are pending at the High Courts and the Court of Appeal. In the same vein, the courts have dismissed all criminal prosecutions initiated against us by Ikechukwu Obiora while declaring that issues arising from the suits are civil and not criminal, yet he remains unabated,” Anosike added.
Among his prayers to the President is a directive to the Inspector General of Police to halt the illegal arrest, detention and abuse of the Publisher, management and members staff of Daily Times of Nigeria; the Inspector General of Police to release, without further delay, all management, line staff and reporters working with Daily Times of Nigeria; and that the President directs either the Vice President, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) or anybody of his choice, to carry out a detailed and comprehensive investigation of the immediate and remote cause(s) of the attempt to destroy Daily Times of Nigeria by Sen. Ikechukwu Obiora, the Nigeria Police and the Corporate Affairs Commission.
On the part of the Senate and House of Representatives, the petition is seeking for a Public Hearing where the parties can present their claims before Nigerians in order to save Daily Times of Nigeria, the heritage newspaper.