The publisher of Leadership newspaper, Sam Nda-Isaiah has been implicated over the arrest, detention and abuse of the fundamental human rights of a media consultant and public relations practitioner, Kalu Okoronkwo by officers of the Department of State Security (DSS).
In a petition to the DSS, counsel to the petitioner, Udoh Bassey said operatives of the DSS, from Shangisha Magodo operation office invaded the home of Okoronkwo on May 19, 2015 and arrested the petitioner, his wife and sister in law.
Bassey claimed that about 15 heavily armed DSS operatives acting on “orders from above” came to the house without previous invitation, search or arrest warrants causing chaos and panic while Okoronkwo was not at home.
“They handcuffed my client’s wife in spite of her plea of innocence, stripped her and continuously wiped her with a wire, used tear gas on her, siblings and cousins at home in the full glare of neighbours before hand-cuffing, arresting and hauling them into a waiting van” he said.
Narrating further in his petition to the DSS Director General, Bassey said on returning home, another batch of officers who ambushed his clients in a commando-like style operation, handcuffed and slapped his client severally before forcefully wrenching his car keys from him and forced him into his car like common criminal before neighbours.
Bassey lamented that his client’s neighbours who before now held him in very high esteem now view him like a common criminal given the scenario which was uncalled for.
He said that his client was released with his family same day when he produced evidence involving him and Sam Nda-Isaiah which bothered on business transaction, a case already in court of competent jurisdiction and Sam Nda-Isaiah duly served with relevant court notices.
According to the Counsel “It was on this note that the State Director of the DSS instructed the release of his client and family insisting that Nda-Isaiah misled them by not giving the agency full disclosures of the transaction, especially the court aspect of the matter since last year”.
Bassey alleged that Okoronkwo had worked for Nda-Isaiah as media consultant when the latter was a candidate for the Presidency under the All Progressive Congress (APC) during the last general elections.
According to him, Nda-Isaiah had agreed to pay the petitioner the sum of N100,000 weekly salary while a Kyron Ssanyyon Jeep with Registration Number MNA 95 KH was given to him to ease his job which entailed interstate visits.
Also as part of the arrangement, Okoronkwo was lodged at Brickland Residence Hotel in Abuja.
He also alleged that Nda-Isaiah reneged on the agreed terms after only two weeks leaving the petitioner with accumulated salary debt of N3.3 million while he was also thrown out of Brickland Residence Hotel due to non payment of his hotel bills by Nda-Isaiah.
He also alleged that Nda-Isaiah neglected to pay N1.29 million being the amount outstanding on the shooting of a documentary to promote his candidacy while another N900,000.000 expended on mobilisation and other media outreaches in Lagos were not paid.
“Our client had written to Mr. Nda-Isaiah enumerating in detail the manner in which funds were disbursed to him and how they were spent, but Mr. Nda-Isaiah did not think it fit to reply nor consider it necessary to pay the amount outstanding.
“Even when our client instructed his lawyer to write to Mr. Nda-Isaiah to resolve issues amicably, the latter preferred to use Police from Ojodu/Berger Police Station to harass and intimidate our client,” Bassey said.
Okoronkwo also got a restraining order against Nda-Isaiah from harrasement by himself or any of his agents. However, inspite of a pending court injunction, the DSS allegedly invaded Okorokwo’s house and arrested him and members of his family.
Okoronkwo is therefore asking for the sum of N10 million as compensation for physical and psychological pain suffered by him and his family and an apology to be published in a national newspaper alongside the settlement of all outstanding debts.
However, in a telephone conversation with New Mail late on Wednesday night, the Leadership newspaper publisher described Okronkwo as a serial liar and irresponsible individual.
He admitted that Okoronkwo indeed approached him during presidential campaign and offered to be his media consultant, but Nda-Isaiah said that there was no binding contractual agreement between himself and Okoronkwo.
“I never had any agreement to pay him any N100, 000 per week. He was the one that said he was going to take that much but there was no written document to indicate that I consented to it.
“What I however remember was that, at a time, he requested that I make available for his use, an official car to facilitate his work. I gave him one of the cars belonging to Leadership Newspaper and put a driver to his service,” Nda-Isaiah said.
The Leadership publisher however stated that what drew his curiosity was when Okoronkwo tricked the driver attached to him, collected the car and drove it back to Lagos from Abuja and since then refused to return it.
He said that he never at any time offered Okoronkwo the car, stressing that there was no way he could have given out the car that belongs to Leadership Newspaper to someone that has absolutely nothing to do with the paper. “I merely facilitated the use of the car for him to move around during the period.”
Nad-Isaiah told our correspondent that the reason why Okoronkwo decides to run around now was simply because he knew that he was soon to be charged for the theft of the car.
“All he is trying to do now is to rake up sentiment and perhaps, blackmail me into surrendering, but I thank God for your rear display of professionalism by deciding to hear from me, because I am sure that he wouldn’t have envisaged that you will call me.