The management of Folio Communications Limited, owners of Daily Times of Nigeria, DTN, has petitioned President Muhammdau Buhari alleging threat to life of its publisher, Fidelis Anosike.
Folio also alleged in the petition an attempt by the police and a former lawmaker, Ikechukwu Obiora to illegally change the ownership of Daily Times Newspapers.
Police High Command and the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, were also included in the petition which accused the police of colluding with the former to change the ownership of DTN and possess its assets.
In the petition entitled, “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 Senator Obiora is using the Police to arrest both management and staff of DTN as well as circulating fake documents in desperate attempt to annex landed properties of the Company.
The letter was dated 24th January, 2018 and personally signed by Chairman of Folio Communications, Fidelis Anosike.
He narrated how Daily Times Nigeria’s offices in Abuja and Lagos were raided and ransacked with the Publisher, Group Managing Director, many line staff and reporters arrested and detained for many days.
Apart from the President, Anosike also petitioned the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Chairman Police Service Commission.
They also wrote to the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, 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 and that DTN was duly handed over to Folio Communications Limited in September, 2014.
He said 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 with forged documents to change ownership of the Company which the courts have severally declared illegal.
The petition added, “Obiora have 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 Magistrate Court in Mpape Abuja with active connivance of the Police High Command led by DIG Hyacinth Dangana 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 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 of its equipments were unserviceable. We have over the years invested billions of Naira to resuscitate and reposition DTN and make it a brand. The intention is restore its lost glory as the face of Nigeria and viable brand.
“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 Nigerian Police and Corporate Affairs Commission should be of grave concern to the 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.”
All relevant documents related to the purchase of DTN including receipts of payment and Shares Purchase Agreement, SSA, were all attached in the petition where Anosike also told the President and others that a dispute between Folio Communications and Ikechukwu Obiora on Daily Times 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, adding that Obiora has continued to act in breach of both the Statement of Agreement and the Consent Judgement.
It added, “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 while declaring that issues arising from the suits are civil and not criminal, yet he remains unabated.
Anosike further prayed the President to direct the Inspector General of Police to halt the illegal arrest, detention and abuse of the Publisher, management and staff of Daily Times of Nigeria; the IGP to release, without further delay all management, line staff and reporters working with Daily Times of Nigeria; and that the President directs either of 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 Nigerian Police and the Corporate Affairs Commission.
On the part of the Senate and House of Representatives, the petition sought for a Public Hearing where the parties can present their claims before Nigerians in order to save Daily Times of Nigeria.