Fidelis Anosike, publisher of Daily Times, has presented documents which were given to him when Folio Communications Ltd, his company, took over the ownership of the newspaper.
In an interview with TheCable, the publisher disclosed that he had petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari over the ownership crisis rocking the newspaper.
He said copies of the petition had also been sent to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki; Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria; Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house of representatives.
Ikechukwu Obiora, a former senator from Anambra state, is also laying claim to the newspaper.
Last month, the police arrested five staff of the publication, purportedly on the directive of Obiora.
At the time, Fidelis and Noel Anosike, group managing director of the newspaper, were also arrested.
They were subsequently arraigned at the magistrate court in Mbappe, Abuja, and later remanded in Kuje prison, where they spent seven days.
Anosike blamed Obiora for the arrest.
He told TheCable that Obiora had bribed the police to “kill” the newspaper.
He said Folio Communications Ltd bought the newspaper through the right channel and has not sold its shares to anyone.
HOW FOLIO COMMUNICATIONS BOUGHT DAILY TIMES IN 2004
He recalled that on September 3, 2004, Folio Communications Ltd won the bid to buy Daily Times when its bidding process was opened by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).
He said the company at the time, acquired 96.5 percent of the paid-up capital of the newspaper “as a core and strategic investor” and then took over the ownership and management of the company.
Anosike said: “When we won the bid, we then proceeded to pay for the bid price which is N1.25 billion. We satisfied all conditions, signed the share sales purchase agreement. The company was handed over to us in September 2004.
“After about six months, the first attempt to take over the company was done by these same individuals doing it today, because they now saw Daily Times has a lot of assets. In our company, we have young people that want to make a difference, that want to take over the company.”
THE OWNERSHIP TUSSLE
Anosike said in 2006 “when the antics to take over the company started”, Obiora claimed he own the company because he bought someone’s interests “whereas that person’s interest was not in shares”.
In a bid to resolve the dispute at the time, there was a parley with other parties, including top media professionals, during which they reportedly had a settlement of agreement which was taken to the high court for a consent judgment.
“The court ruled no one should do anything outside this judgment except it is vacated,” he said, adding: “So everything he is doing is in violation of the court judgment.
“Thereafter, he has been going to Corporate Affairs Commission to forge papers. Filing Daily Times name for a company that has been bought. When there has been a deed of transfer. It has got to a point where he is currently trying to sell some of our properties.”
‘HOW THE POLICE WAS SETTLED’
Anosike alleged that while trying to sell the Daily Times assets, Obiora went to the police and paid a huge amount of money, after which “they came here and arrested me and the GMD”.
He said they were subsequently remanded in prison for one week on the order of the court though “the police never gave us an opportunity for fair hearing even up till now”.
“So, the DIG becomes the one making the case for the complainant when he is supposed to stand for all parties,” he said.
“The day he took us to the police station, he locked us up in the cell and the next day, he forced us to write a statement after which they took us to magistrate court and remanded us in prison. We were in Kuje prison for one week before we had to now file for our bail.
“All this assault is to make sure that Daily Times does not survive… just because they want to target Daily Times assets, to use the asset and defray his indebtedness with the bank.”
Following the alleged assault, Anosike said the company approached the court “to know that their judgments are being violated”.
He added: “It is laughable how you go to litigate a national company when there is an out-of-court agreement, a court judgment, an appeal court judgment and a subsisting suit going on now between us and CAC for tampering with our files; how you go and arrest people in Lagos and bring them to magistrate court, in Mbappe, here in Abuja.
“He claims he is a shareholder. If you are a shareholder of a company, you don’t need to fight about it. If you have a judgment of the court, you don’t need police. And police are supposed to be investigating, and not conniving with the other party.
“What he is doing with the police is ‘if I can’t have it, let me kill it. He is trying to kill Daily Times. But the good thing about Nigeria is, the wheel of justice is slow but is sure.”