Igbo group protests against media trial of Seplat boss, Orjiako
A group, Nchekwa Igbo Society, has cautioned against ongoing media persecution of Chairman of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, A.B.C. Orjiako, describing it as “unjust and the handiwork of detractors to tarnish his image.”
Its Coordinator, Iwezuo Ukandu, who stated this after the group’s emergency meeting in Owerri, Imo State, yesterday, said: “Apart from a man being presumed innocent until proven guilty in court, there are legal rooms for negotiation and out of court settlement of loan issues.”
He explained that the issues surrounding certain loan facilities obtained by Shebah, in which Orjiako is a majority shareholder and not a member of the company’s management team to prosecute a drilling campaign in OML 108, was not a fresh case.
He insisted that the same matter was widely reported in the media in 2016, adding: “The 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 repaid a greater part of the loan, appears to be a sponsored attempt to destroy the reputation and success story of a thriving Igbo businessman.
“In the light of recent happenings in Nigeria, where Igbo politicians, activists, businessmen, public officials in the judiciary, have been persecuted and victimised, it is becoming clearer that certain people in certain places want to reduce the dignity and well-being of the Igbo man.
“Specifically, Justice Mary Odili, Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors, Obinna Iyiegbu (aka Cubana) and Orji Uzor Kalu, among others, have been harassed and victimised in recent times. The media trials are distasteful.”
Also speaking, Executive Secretary, Society and Legal Practitioner, Dorathy Jemanze, said: “The truth is that Orjiako was not the borrower of the facilities and he did not use 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 loans.
“Furthermore, the banks did not disburse the loans directly to Orjiako or Shebah, but to the company’s service providers. 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 in the country.”
She stressed that rather than witch-hunt him, the courts should conclude the matter before branding him a recalcitrant debtor or lobbyist, wondering who was responsible for the witch-hunting and misrepresentations in the media.