Chairman of Folio Media Group (FMG) and publisher of Daily Times, Mr. Fidelis Anosike, has said he is ready to deploy everything at his disposal to defend the newspaper.
Anosike said despite the charade and attempts by some individuals to truncate the publishing of the newspaper and run it out of business, for the sole purpose of stripping its assets, he is ready to put his life on the line to, not only to ensure that they fail, but also to ensure that the DTN remains a success story by being on the news stands everyday.
Speaking to newsmen at the newspaper’s premises, in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday, over a recent invasion of the newspaper’s premises and vandalisation and destruction of the company properties by hoodlums, Anosike insisted that no amount of intimidation will make him relinquish ownership of the company, which his company rightly acquired from the Federal Government to anyone.
He said: “Nobody is above the law. If I can go to prison, anybody can go to prison. I am ready to die for Daily Times to be alive. It doesn’t matter, so nobody is going to scare me, The Daily Times will continue publishing.”
“Daily Times was sold wholly to Folio Communications Limited. It was not a consortium sale, but, somewhere along the line, some of these people came and they wanted to buy some of the properties that Daily Times had and we agreed to sell one or two of the properties to them and they gave us cheques and some of the cheques bounced and we are currently in court with them over dud cheques.
“But, the current issues we are facing now is that Daily Times was invaded with a purported Magistrates’ Court order.
“That also tells us how Nigeria is and how dangerous doing business in Nigeria is. Imagine a situation where a publisher like me is taken to a police station and the next day he was bundled to a magistrates’ court in Mpape, in Abuja.
“The next day, I found myself in prison, what will you do? But, I had to follow the due process to come out.”
Anosike showed journalists a heap of disconnected air conditioners the invaders allegedly attempted to cart away before they were stopped.
He also showed them several television stands from where televisions sets were removed, including computers, and a 100 KVA generating set.
He alleged that one of those DTN has issues with was “a property magnate and this is what he does.
He sees where there is conflict, he moves in there, provides the weaker party, or so to speak money and in this case, he gave them N700 million, to prosecute this because he targeted Daily Times properties.
But, what I am trying to do here now is to do my best, to let Nigerians understand what happened. We have it under control, so to speak.
“We have been trying to turn around this company. I think we have been doing a good job of it.
“The paper is on the street, every single day, in the last five years, but, all they are targeting is the assets.
“Daily Times has had many people who have died working there, so many journalists have not been paid over time, so, what if the assets go, what happens to them?..
“This is a case where the Court of Appeal has said they have no locus standi in the matter, because there was a final out-of-court settlement in all issues regarding Daily Times in 2006 and entered as a court judgment.
“So, this is really scary, but, it is our country; that is the situation we found ourselves. But, we are not going to rest as there are people who call themselves money bags and politicians in disguise, they sit down and do all sorts of things”.
He, however, expressed joy that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, has taken serious action on the matter.
“I am very happy to report that the IGP rose to the occasion and has handed the case over to his monitoring team.
“This same mastermind of all these has eight riot policemen in his house and when we went to arrest him, he ran away and all his policemen were taken back to the station.
“They are on his trail and I am sure, by now, they would have formally invited him. With 300,000 policemen for 180 million people, yet, one person has eight policemen to himself, in one house.
“So, you can imagine that! Why won’t he take the laws into his hands? They came into this premises last week, they took over this premises, chased all the workers away, took all the computers, took money, broke down the entire place, all in a bid to invade and take over this place.
“He took the case to court on January 15…it was not even a court order.
Speaking on his arrest, Anosike said: “When we got to court, they said they have first information report about we stealing Daily Times money, that we are not Daily Times, but they are Daily Times and the prosecutor also said the investigation is still ongoing, so, they just wanted a remand order, but I am also happy that it happened because for me, I will fight for Daily Times with my life.
“I have spent 14 years of my life trying to make sure the heritage newspaper works.
“There is no partner in Daily Times. The Daily Times was bought by Folio Communications. It is only Daily Times that can give anybody shares.
“It was only Daily Times that entered into out of court settlement in 2006, when Hallmark Bank tried to take over Daily Times.”