• Management cries out over property demolition
The management of Daily Times Publishing Limited has cried out over the vandalism of its Ikeja office and demolition of its Ikoyi property, alleging Senator Ikechukwu Obiora was the mastermind.
Chairman of Folio Communications and publishers of Daily Times, Mr. Fidelis Anosike, accused the senator, who once represented Anambra South of vandalism, unlawful arrest and intimidation. On January 25, 2018, Anosike alleged that Obiora came in with a team of 10 uniformed men and thugs, vandalized the Ikeja office of Daily Times and carted away properties worth millions of naira:
“Daily Times was sold wholly to Folio Communications by the Federal Government and it was not a consortium sale. But at a time, some people showed interest in acquiring some of Daily Times assets and we agreed to sell a few of the properties to them. They gave us cheques but some of the cheques bounced and we are currently in court over that.
“The issue we have now is that one senator Ikechukwu Obiora invaded our Daily Times office in Ikeja on January 25 this year, with a purported Magistrate Court order to take over our property. He came in the company of some uniformed police officers and our properties were vandalized. They carted away all our computers, generators, dismantled our air conditioners, took money, broke down the entire place, all in a bid to invade and take over this place.
“I was taken to a police station and the next day I was bundled to a magistrate court in Mpape an outskirt of Abuja and after that, I found myself in prison but was later released. While this was going on, I alerted the Inspector General and he handed the case over to his monitoring team.
“We have been trying to turn around this company and I think we have been doing a good job of it because for the past five years, the paper has been on the street every single day. What these people are targeting are the assets that Daily Times owns.
“They have tried in the past to take away Daily Times from us through the courts, but even the Appeal Court ruled that they had no locus in the matter, because there was a final out of court settlement in all issues regarding Daily Times in 2006. “Obiora went to the court on January 15, 2018, and claimed Daily Times was owing his other company N2million and claimed that there is a consent judgment between Daily Times and his other company that for the N2million, they have agreed to give up all Daily Times assets in excess of N9billion. It was based on that that he moved in. He was not even given an order.”
He said apart from the Ikeja office, the senator demolished the company property on 15 Cooper Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, occupied by veteran broadcaster, Mr. Patrick Oke: “We have written a formal petition to the President, the Senate President, the Speaker, the IGP and the IGP has ordered a full investigation into the matter.
“I am ready to die for Daily Times to be alive, nobody is going to scare me, Daily Times will continue publishing. What we are going to do is that we are going to call the credible creditors of Daily Times to take over its assets so that it is not dissipated, because most of the tenants have lost several millions and they may sue Daily Times. At the end of the day, the liability mounts and the assets become worthless.”
Oke narrated his ordeal: “I have been resident here in the last 14 years. Then a certain Obiorah came here once and said that he co-owned Daily Times with Folio Communications’ Anosike and that he was the landlord of this place. I said no I have been dealing with the Anosikes for the past 14 years, we have a long lease on the property and he is the person I know.
“He said they have been to court over the issue and that he was going to relocate me. But, I told him that I have been here for 14 years and I spent millions to put up structures in place so that I can enjoy my stay. He said he is going to Abuja, when he returns he will see me. That was the last conversation we had till I travelled to Abuja.
“On the evening of the November 21, 2017, I got a message that they have completed plans to come and raid my house the next day and that they were coming as early as 6am. I called my lawyer to say look I don’t know what is going on, this is the message I was getting and my lawyer was here in the morning.
“Apparently, my lawyer had foreseen what was going to happen and had actually filed a stay of execution on whatever they were doing. The matter was in the file of the Magistrate, but she ignored it. Even when my lawyer was given a date for the hearing for the December 19, they ignored it and still came ahead to demolish the house.
“He brought some scary looking people who came with instruments with harmers and broke the gate and started throwing out all my things, it was terrible. It took them a whole day to throw out things.
“I had about 50,000 books in my library here, here was the main studio, an ultra modern well equipped studio, with audience facilities and anybody who has been here will tell you. Everything I have ever worked for was here and I have been here for 14 years.
“We were in court trying to stop it, but the court was delaying. I will tell you that I have lost confidence in the Nigerian system. I kept going, I even went to Alagbon, and nobody answered me. By the next day they had actually started destroying, you could see people looking like mad people throwing out things and breaking down walls.
“Five buildings were in this facility and they brought all to the ground and even took away the debris. Right now, we are in court and we are suing for damages. I hope he can cope because we are ready to go to the end of the earth to make sure we get payment for the damage done.
“After destroying the place he left some guards. A set of policemen under him were coming here regularly to guard the place for him as it were, until the IGP ordered his arrest and a new set of policemen were redeployed. That was when we had access into the premises.”
When Daily Sun reached out to Obiora for his reaction to the allegations, he neither denied nor confirmed ordering the demolition of the said properties. He inswisted that Anosike and Folio Communications were occupying the premises of Daily Times illegally and that contrary to Anosike’s claims, he is a director in Daily Times:
“Fidelis has no business talking about Daily Times because he is neither a shareholder, director or chairman. I can forward to you a letter written by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), to the Federal High Court so that you would know whether Fidelis is worth speaking to.
“He is occupying the position of the publisher of Daily Times illegally and there is a court order to that effect.
From 2010, he has been going from one court to the other. If you want to know who owns a company, do you not go to the CAC? You can go and verify who the authentic directors and shareholders of Daily Times are from the CAC.”