By Iruoma Kelechi
The management of Folio Communications Limited, owners of Daily Times of Nigeria (DTN) has petitioned President Muhammdu Buhari saying that there are plans to change the ownership of DTN.
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 Ikechukwu Obiora is using the Police to arrest both management and staff of DTN as well as circulating documents in an attempt to annex landed properties of the company.
The petition which was dated January 24, 2018, and signed by the 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, many line staff and reporters arrested and detained for many days.
Apart from the President, Anosike also petitioned the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, and Speakerof the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Chairman Police Service Commission.
The Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Newspaper Proprietors of Nigeria (NPAN) were also copied.
In the petition, Anosike said Folio Communications Limited bided for and bought DTN in a widely publicised and 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.
The Petition reads: ‘’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.
“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 equipment was unserviceable. We have over the years invested billions of Naira to resuscitate and reposition DTN and make it a brand. The intention is to 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 a 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,” the petition stated.
“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.’’
Among his prayers to the President was a directive to the Inspector General of Police to halt the arrest, detention and abuse of the Publisher, management and staff of Daily Times of Nigeria; the Inspector General of Police release, without further delay all management, line staff and reporters working with Daily Times of Nigeria; direct either the Vice President or the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) or anybody of his choice, to carry out a detailed and comprehensive investigation into the matter.
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.