I’ve been justified— Emeka Ike
By Ben Njoku
THE Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, last week nullified the election that produced Ibinabo Fiberesima as the President of Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) in 2012. Since that judgment was delivered, the industry has been thrown into confusion, even as Ibinabo has stormed the Court of Appeal to challenge the judgment.
HVP went after Emeka Ike, one of the principal actors in the matter during the week, as he vented his anger on the sacked President of the guild. He vows to ensure that the court order is executed despite all odds, alleging, however, that his life is currently being threatened for fighting for justice.
What’s the position of things at the moment?
Nothing has changed about the Federal High Court verdict voiding the election that brought Ibinabo Fiberesima into office as the President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, and the sacking of members of the Board of Trustees of the Guild. That’s the position for now.
Has the court order been obeyed by your opponents?
They will not obey the court order and they are not obeying the verdict of the court of law. They are even calling the court ruling “kangaroo.” What an impunity!
They are yet to obey the court order. I’m hearing that she has gone to Court of Appeal, and if Ibinabo has appealed the matter, common sense demands that she should keep quiet and watch things unfold. Who’s advising her as well as her sponsors? She has appealed the matter, fine! But the appeal has not been granted, whether there will be a stay of execution or not.
It’s just a notice, but I have an order. I am the legitimate President of AGN as we speak now. I don’t know who is giving Ibinabo the wrong impression that the court did not pronounce me the President of AGN.
If the Chief of Staff of Mr. President goes to court on behalf of the government and wins the judgement against the opposition, would you say he did it in isolation? It’s an issue of the excos, and one of my excos who happens to be my treasurer went to court to obtain a judgement against Ibinabo. So, it’s a victory for all.
What’s the way forward?
We have to proceed with everything we can to make them understand that the rule of law is sacrosanct. No matter the amount of money they have to throw around, the rule of law must prevail in this matter. They must obey the court order, and where they refused to do so, we will use all legal means to bring them to submission. We are not afraid of what they can do. In fact, the worse they can do is to pump bullets into our bodies. They are already threatening our lives. They even told my wife that she should either advise her husband or become a widow. Are they planning to kill me?
Of course, I am not afraid to die fighting for justice. I am not scared of the things that the evil men can do to the physical body because the soul is more superior than the physical body. If they think they can take the body away, I have made my point.
This judgement has justified me despite all the scandalous things they have said about me on the pages of newspapers; all the blackmailings and invasion of my privacy; I have not said Ibinabo has five children from five men, neither have I reminded her that she has a case to answer with the Lagos State government. I’m not saying anything that has to do with her personal life.
But I am telling her that she’s no longer the President of AGN, and that those people who are doing everything to secure her position are doing so because of their own personal gains. The young actors and actresses are being disenfranchised. It’s only for the few who would pay Ibinabo’s game, and among the few, the list keeps dropping as another new list emerges. So, it’s a case of ‘use and dump’, which is the normal game in politics. If she is introducing the same in the entertainment industry, we have to resist it.
What have you done about the threat to your life?
I have made complains to the law enforcement agency and they will invite them very soon. I am crying out that Ibinabo and her followers want to kill me.
Last week, Segun Arinze suggested that the industry should declare you persona non grata?
That shows the depth of his knowledge. On what bases will you declare somebody a persona non grata? That I got a judgment and that I am right in my claims. If you don’t have enough facts to persecute the case, you’d better withdraw. Don’t call for assistance or begin to attract sympathy. This is not about me, but it’s about the aspiring actors who have been disenfranchised.
You don’t make people feel that you are connected enough to disobey the court order. It’s only a stain on your personality. Since last week, I have been receiving congratulatory messages from the elders of the industry. They have been thanking me for liberating them from the strongholds of Ibinabo and members of the Board of Trustees. Have you not heard about a lot of irregularities going on in the Guild? Where are all the monies they are making in the name of the Guild? Where is the office space?
Two-bedroom apartment located somewhere in Surulere, and the apartment has been there before Ibinabo assumed office. So, what has she achieved since she came into office? That she facilitated Chike Byran’s travel to India for kidney transplant; Was that the only achievement she has recorded with all the monies she’s making in the name of the Guild. Where are the papers for the parcels of lands she collected on behalf of the guild in Abuja, Lagos, Anambra among other cities?
But people believe Ibinabo’s admininstration has transformed the guild?
Mention one actor or actress that has been insured. How is the health insurance working? Which company insured us and where are the papers? All these things are empty claims. That she assisted Prince James Uche and other ailing actors financially: I also assisted Prince James Uche from my personal purse, and I did not make noise about it. I also contributed to Emeka Ojukwu, when he had a problem too.
A leader must have a programme of action. Tell me, which programme has pursued since she came on board? The only thing she has done is that of exposing us to the government because of her relationship with the government in power. But then, the closeness is not properly harnessed, because the financial gifts the government in power is giving to the industry through Ibinabo is not reaching the grassroots. Then what are we talking about.
What’s your dream for AGN?
My dream is to see an AGN where every member has a pride of place in the guild; Where issues affecting the guild will be addressed by the members themselves, and allowing the leadership to implement whatever decision they have arrived at.
From 2007, when this case was first instituted, till date, can you put a figure to what you have spent so far?
There is no figure whatever that can make justice achievable to a common man on the street. But I can tell you, I have spend well over N10 to N12 million on this matter. For instance, since last week, all my state chairmen have been in Lagos on my bill. It has happened like that over ten times.
You didn’t get any judgment against us — AGN BoT
MEANWHILE reacting to the Federal High Court judgment during the week, at a press conference held at the guild’s secretariat in Surulere, Lagos, the Board of Trustees,BoT, of the guild,declared that Emeka Ike did not get any judgment or victory against its members. Speaking through its Chairman, Prince Ifeanyi Dike, the Board maintained that Emeka Ike cannot be the President of the guild because he was not joined in the suit with St Maradona Mikevine, in which judgement was delivered on last Monday.
Hear him: “We have decided to talk to the press concerning what have been dished out by Emeka Ike concerning his litigation with the members of the Board of Trustees of the Actors Guild of Nigeria. Emeka Ike has been telling the world that he has won his case against the Board of Trustees of the guild, and that he has been declared the President of the body. We need to correct this falsehood deliberately being peddled around obviously for political gains of the bearer of the false information.”
“The truth is that Emeka Ike did not get any judgement or victory against members of the BoT of AGN. His case is suit number FHC/L/CS/365/2011 and it is still pending before Honourable Justice Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Lagos. It has been adjourned to Thursday, April 16, 2015 for hearing of the objection filed by Emeka Ike against the appearance of our new counsel in the matter. If the case is still pending in court, how can the same court declare him to be the President without deciding the matter finally? This is the central issue for resolution in that case.”
Continuing, Prince Dike, who was flanked by Sunny McDon, the Secretary to the Board, and the BoT’s lawyer, Nnaemeka Amaechina said, “The truth is that another case filed by St Maradona Mikevine Johnson V Board of Trustees of the Actors Guild of Nigeria suit number FHC/L/CS/734/2012 was decided by the court on March 16, 2015. In that case, the court ruled among other things that the term of office of the members of the BoT of AGN has expired. We have since appealed against that decision.
“One of the planks of our complaint is that the members of the BoT, whose tenure was declared to have expired, were not made parties to that action. Despite this complaint, the court, in its infinite wisdom, found against us and we have appealed to the Court of Appeal against that decision.”
“Apart from appealing, we have also filed motion for stay of execution. The implication of filing stay is that the court judgment has not become operative until the motion for stay is decided either in our favour or against us.Despite this motion, which is pending, Emeka Ike has been sending thugs to unleash violence in order to take over the office of the president of AGN. This is lawlessness in its extremity.
In this case, Emeka Ike did not get judgement to start with. Assuming he got judgement, he cannot execute it by himself or through thugs but through court officials, whose responsibility it is to do so. He cannot take laws into his own hands. The fact remains that he did not get judgement, so, he cannot execute any judgement.” Dike, however, revealed that Emeka Ike ceased to be a member of the guild since 2009, when they published a disclaimer on him in the Daily Sun, adding that “Even in the action filed by Emeka Ike, he is contending that 17, Ajao Road is not the office of AGN. We wonder why he should come here now to seek to cause commotion.”