By Olasunaknmi Akoni
Members of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State chapter, yesterday stormed the premises of Daily Times, publisher of the Times Newspapers and barricaded the entrance in protest against the sale of newspaper firm to Folio Communication by the Bureau for Public Enterprise even as the union alleged mismanagement.
The union also called on Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to investigate the sale of Daily Times.
Led by its chairman, Alhaji Wahaab Oba, the placard carrying media practitioners stormed the place located on Lateef Jakande Road, Agidingbi, Ikeja, at about 11.00 a.m chanting solidarity songs to express their displeasure.
Following the picketing, officials of the BPE who were scheduled for an inspection of the company facilities towards the final handling over of the company to Folio Communication failed to show up.
Three 18-passenger seater buses belonging to the union were used to barricade the two gates leading to the premise as all vehicles and persons were denied entry into the premises.
Some of the placard read: â€œ5 years After, No Hope for DTNâ€, â€œ DTN Privatization Is The Worst in Nigeriaâ€, â€œRevocation Now! DTN Will Never Riseâ€ and â€œBPE, Sale of DTN is Mired in Fraud.â€
While justifying the protest, Oba said all efforts to make the Folio Communication boss Mr. Fidelis Anosike to honour an agreement reached to pay the arrears of staff have continue to prove abortive
Earlier, at an emergency media briefing, Oba called on the Federal Government to commence investigation into circumstances leading to receipt of the bid on sales of the property by the BPE seven days after expiration of the bid so as to unravel alleged interest of senior officials of BPE in the bid.
Oba, who described the visit by the BPE as nothing but a dress rehearsal to finally seal the deal in favour of Folio Communications, said the union has mobilized professional journalists to picket the DTN to avert what he described as a charade by the BPE.
According to him, the sales of DTN to the preferred bidder has neither impacted on the property nor the profession five years since it took over under temporary supervision of the BPE. Since takeover, Oba said, the preferred bidder has not been able to publish the paper continuously for three months without any interruption, adding that what the management of the company has done is to publish Business Times occasionally, and the annual October First publication which he said is used as a tool to milk government agencies.
He said the union opted to go sue the BPE having refused to acknowledge a copy of letter sent to it and the Vice President, adding that only the Senate President, Senator David Mark has been human enough to reply the letter intimating them of the state of affairs of DTN and the need to have a rethink over the sale of the property.
The journalists however left the premises at about 2.00pm under the supervision of cooperative by a detachment of policemen from Alausa Division, but vowed to return in the event that the management show up later
However, officials of the BPE and Mr. Fidelis Anosike, the Chairman Folio Communications were seen throughout the several hours that the exercise lasted.
One of Editorial staff of Daily Times who partake in the protest, Mr. Dauda Sulaymon alleged that Folio Communications, through its management team had sold greater part of the equipment within Daily Times premises.
He said that the current owner of the media organisation has succeeded in selling other property belonging to Daily Times on Lagos Island, particularly those on
Kakawa Street, to get fund with which it runs Business Times for some time before it stopped production about three weeks ago.