The management of Folio Communications Plc, publishers of Daily Times newspapers have asked Sen. Ikechukwu Obiorah and his lawyer Festus Keyamo to stop what it described as judicial forum shopping in desperate but impossible efforts to acquire Daily Times of Nigeria.
Folio was reacting to information it received that documents were being circulated in some sections of the media claiming that Federal Government has exposed how Folio and its management acquired Daily Times with forged documents.
In a statement on Thursday which was signed by the Managing Editor of Daily Times newspaper, Bonaventure Melah, Folio said the current case filed by the Police and on which ground the fake news was being bandied around, is about the 15th of its kind that Ikechukwu Obiorah had instigated the Police to initiate against Folio and its management, all of which he said fell flat on their belly before the courts because they are not only baseless but also lack merit.
“This case is not the first, not the second, not the third but about the 15th different cases Ikechukwu Obiorah has instigated the Police to institute against Folio Communications Plc on Daily Times.
They have gone from High Court to Magistrate Court, back to High Court and to Magistrate Court. Today, they will run to the Federal High Court, tomorrow, they will run to FCT High court and then to Magistrate Court in Mpape, a suburb of Abuja and to Magistrate Court in Igbosere, Lagos, all in bare-face contempt and disrespect for both the judiciary and mockery of the respected legal profession.
“This same case has gone to the Court of Appeal where in 2010 the Court of Appeal ruled that the matter was purely civil with the no criminal ingredients.
Inspectors General of Police have investigated the case severally and put it in black and white that it is a civil case of ownership. But, Ikechukwu Obiorah, finding a willing ally in the current IGP has been using the Police to intimidate Folio and its management,” Bonaventure wrote.
According to the statement, it was laughable that Keyamo and his client Ikechukwu Obiorah both of who are lawyers are circulating court papers (in sub judus) alleging that Folio bought Daily Times with forged documents, wondering what sale of asset by government has to do with documents.
He cautioned Barrister Keyamo not to resort to his usual antics of applying media trial in cases pending in courts, adding that it will not be business as usual for him in the matter involving Folio and Daily Times.
“Our initial reaction to the information that court papers are being circulated as news, (an act that sub judus) was a very long laugh. However, because the main characters in this funny drama are lawyers who should know, it therefore became necessary to react to it.
“In the first place, privatisation is different from commercialisation. Federal Government of Nigeria through the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) advertised to sell Daily Times.
Folio, like many other companies bided to acquire Daily Times and after very rigorous but transparent process, Folio emerged the preferred bidder. Folio went ahead to fully pay for Daily Times and the government duly handed over the company to Folio.
“Privatisation is about offer, acceptance and payment. It is not commercialisation where conditions are stated. Privatisation is buying and selling.
Government advertised, Folio bided and won and went ahead to pay in full the value of the transaction. What has forging of documents got to do with the business? Who forged document and for what? Or are they saying that the money Folio paid and which government received was fake or forged money?
“The next question is who is alleging forgery on the transaction? Is it the Police or the BPE that advertised, supervised the process of bidding, declared Folio as the preferred bidder, accepted the money paid and handed over Daily Times to Folio?
What is the interest of the Police that is being used to institute criminal charges against Folio and its management when BPE that conducted the sale and handed over Daily Times to Folio is there and has never complained about the transaction?” the statement wondered.
“Finally, we wish to advise Barrister Festus Keyamo not to resort to his usual antics of drama and media trial in this case which has lasted for 14 years before he was drafted in.
If Keyamo decides to dramatise and employ the use of media trial, it will not be business as usual for him because we are able to meet Keyamo every step on the same way,” Bonaventure said.