From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
A group, ‘Nchekwa Igbo Society’ has strongly condemned the ongoing media persecution of Chairman of Seplat Petroleum Development Company PLC,Dr ABC Orjiako, describing it as unjust and the handiwork of detractors who are bent in tarnishing his image.
The group also lamented the recent hounding and media trial of prominent Igbo persons like Senate Majority leader and former Abia state governor Orji Uzo Kalu, the chairman of Innoson Motors ,Innocent Chukwuma , Obinna Iyiegbu owner of the Cubana group and Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili .
The group’s Coordinator, Dr. Iwezuo Ukandu, who stated this shortly after their emergency meeting held in Owerri, at the weekend , said, “apart from a man being presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law, there are legal rooms for negotiation and settlement of loan issues out of court.”
According to him, “the issues surrounding certain loan facilities taken by Shebah, in which Dr. Orjiako is just a majority shareholder and not a member of the company’s management team, to carry out a drilling campaign in OML 108 is not a fresh case. The same matter was widely reported in various media in 2016.
“This fresh media onslaught even when the man in question has the authority of court to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the creditors, and has indeed, repaid a greater part of the said loan, appears to be a sponsored attempt to destroy the hard earned reputation and success story of a thriving Igbo businessman.
“In the light of recent happenings in Nigeria, where Igbo politicians, activists, businessmen, public officials – even in the temple of Justice, have been persecuted and victimized, oftentimes wrongfully; a clear picture is coming through that certain people in certain places want to reduce the dignity and overall well-being of the Igbo men and women.”
“Cases in reference may include the also recent hounding or holing of Justice Mary Odili, Chief Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors, Obinna Iyiegbu of Obi Cubana fame, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, and several others.
“The media trials are quite distasteful to say the least. Why not allow the wheels of justice to run its course, before vilifying an enterprising Igboman?” he added.
Also, Dorathy Jemanze, Executive Secretary, of the Society and Legal Practitioner, noted that “the painful truth in this matter is that all findings have shown that Orjiako was never the borrower of the facilities. He did not utilize the facilities as an individual.
“He was not a member of Management of Shebah but only stepped in, to salvage the company by making payments to the banks using his personal and family assets in liquidating the facilities.
“Furthermore, the banks did not disburse the loans directly to Orjiako or Shebah, but to the service providers of the company. Orjiako only stood as guarantor of a loan that went bad. If we continue to treat this matter as if he was wrong, then it may be difficult for someone to stand as surety for another to grow in the land.”
“Why not allow the courts to conclude the matter before branding this man a recalcitrant debtor or lobbyist? Why all these witch-hunting and misrepresentations in the press? Who and who is sponsoring them? Who wants ABC Orjiako out of the way by all means? What exactly has he done to them?” She lamented .
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