Refund N.63m You Took From Me Forcefully, Editor Tells The Nation Newspaper, Emeka Ihedioha, Steve Osuji
Mr Sam Egburonu, former Associate Editor with The Nation newspaper, has called on good spirited Nigerians to appeal to the Owners and management of Vintage Press Limited, Publisher of The Nation newspaper, to refund N639,711.78 it forcefully deducted from his entitlement to pay for advertisement debts incurred by Hon Emeka Ihedioha, Steve Osuji and Imo State Government.
In a statement dated 28 March 2022, Egburonu explained how he was deliberately made to pay for adverts he did not place, adverts that were actually placed by Mr Steve Osuji on behalf of his principal, the then Governor of Imo State and Imo State Government
The full statement reads.
APPEAL TO HON EMEKA IHEDIOHA, STEVE OSUJI AND THE OWNERS OF THE NATION NEWSPAPER TO REFUND N639,711.78 THE NATION NEWSPAPERS MANAGEMENT FORCEFULLY TOOK FROM ME INSTEAD OF FROM IHEDIOHA AND OSUJI
I, Samuel Egburonu, former Associate Editor with The Nation newspaper, write to appeal to well meaning Nigerians to help plead with Hon Emeka Ihedioha (former Governor of Imo State and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives); Mr Steve Osuji (former Media Adviser in Ihedioha’s government in Imo State) and the Owners and Directors of Vintage Press Limited, the Publisher of The Nation newspaper to refund the sum of N639,711.78 (Six Hundred and Thirty Nine Thousand, Seven Hundred and Eleven Naira, Seventy Eight Kobo) The Nation Newspaper management took from me forcefully.
I resorted to this public medium to seek people’s assistance over this unfair treatment because every effort I made so far to convince Mr Victor Ifijeh-led management of The Nation newspaper to demand payment from the right debtor with whom they had a contract and every effort I have made to get Mr Steve Osuji and his then principal, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, to pick up their bills instead of unfairly shifting it to another person, fell on deaf ears.
The said amount (N639,711.78) was the cost of two pages black and white advert published in The Nation on the Sunday before the January 2020 judgment of the Supreme Court that removed Ihedioha as Imo State Governor.
Mr Steve Osuji, then Media Adviser to the Governor, had placed the adverts for his principal, Hon Emeka Ihedioha or Imo State Government, as he said.
Following Hon Ihedioha’s sudden removal as the state governor, through Supreme Court ruling, the Management of The Nation newspaper tried to recover the said debt from the Senator Hope Uzodimma-led Imo State Government.
Since the said advert, which Mr Steve Osuji said he placed for his principal, did not bear the name or logo of Imo State Government, Governor Hope Uzodimma refused to make payment for it.
As at the time of contracting for the publication of the said advert, Mr Steve Osuji was still a Staff of The Nation (on Leave of Absence) and also serving as the Media Adviser to the then Governor Emeka Ihedioha.
Surprisingly, just because Mr Steve Osuji sent the artwork of the said advert through my e-mail address, Mr Victor Ifijeh-led management of The Nation newspaper decided to deduct the said advert debt (N639,711.78) from my entitlement in spite of my vehement protest.
This is notwithstanding the fact that on the very day Mr Steve Osuji called to say he wanted to place the said adverts on behalf of Hon Ihedioha-led Imo State Government, the same, Mr Victor Ifijeh, as the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of The Nation newspapers, had insisted that since he (Steve Osuji) did not advance cash, he (Steve Osuji) must, in line with management’s instruction concerning members of staff indemnifying credit advert placements, sign an undertaking that he would pay for the said adverts within two or three days after publication.
It is on record that Mr Steve Osuji agreed and signed the requested undertaking to make the said payment within two or three days after the publication, which Mr Ifijeh (the MD) personally approved before the then Editor, Sunday, now, Editor, Weekend, Mr Festus Eriye, published the adverts.
Given the fact that Mr Ifijeh, the MD, knew that it was Mr Steve Osuji that placed the advert and that he (Mr Steve Osuji) signed an undertaking to pay for the said adverts which he (Mr Victor Ifijeh) approved, it is difficult to understand why, according to Mr Ifijeh-led management, the Owner or Board of Directors of Vintage Press Limited, Publisher of The Nation newspaper, permitted the management to collect the debt from me instead of the person that placed the advert and signed an undertaking to make the payment or perhaps from his principal, whose agent he acted as.
So, I hereby use this open medium to plead to the Owners (or Directors) of Vintage Press Limited, Publisher of The Nation newspaper to refund the said N639,711.78 forcefully and unfairly deducted from my entitlement in spite of my protests.
It is unfortunate that I should be treated so unfairly after serving The Nation newspaper meritoriously for ten (10) years as Associate Editor.
Before I eventually resigned from The Nation newspaper for further studies, I and my family were subjected to severe torture when The Nation newspaper management withheld my salaries over an advert debt they all (Principal Officers of the Management) knew I was not the person they entered the said advert placement contract with.
The management made me and my family members to suffer untold hardship in spite of all available evidence that I did not place the said advert.
In fact, it was the MD, Mr Victor Ifijeh, that approved the undertaking Mr Steve Osuji wrote to him while I was away enjoying my annual leave then.
So, it is difficult to understand why the same MD (Mr Victor Ifijeh) and his team, after visiting Owerri to convince Governor Uzodimma to pay without success, would turn around and proceed to authorize deduction of the same debt from me.
The only explanation he (Mr Victor Ifijeh) has given so far for this curious decision is that since as at the time of “discovering” the outstanding debt, Mr Steve Osuji, the person that actually placed the advert and who gave him (Mr Victor Ifijeh) a written undertaken to pay for the advert, had resigned his appointment with The Nation as a Member of Editorial Board and had collected his entitlements.
That given that circumstance, he (the MD) and Vintage Press Limited Management decided to hold unto my salaries and later my entitlement to pay for the advert debt Mr Steve Osuji incurred on behalf of Hon Emeka Ihedioha-led Imo State Government.
I never imagined The Nation newspaper management will carry out this decision because that decision remains too hard to understand or justify.
So, when I eventually resigned from the company to pursue other interests, the management, through Mr Victor Ifijeh’s authorisation, went ahead to deduct the N639,711.78 from my entitlement.
As for Hon Emeka Ihedioha, who was Mr Steve Osuji’s principal and for who he acted as an agent then, it is unfortunate that every effort I had made to reach him, to intimate him of the way I and my family members are being made to suffer because of expenses incurred by him through his agent (Mr Steve Osuji) in the course of his political battles in Imo State and to let him intervene and settle the matter, were rebuffed.
When my salaries were withheld by The Nation management because of the adverts he placed through his Media aide while contending with his political rivals, I wrote appeals to him (both directly to him on his WhatsApp and through his said Media Aide, Mr Steve Osuji). He never dignified me with a mere answer.
I made desperate telephone calls to the honourable, but he refused to pick my calls. His former Media Adviser, Mr Steve Osuji, assured me he will send some of my written appeals to Hon Emeka Ihedioha through other close associates. Again, there was not even a word from him.
When Vintage Press Limited, Publisher of The Nation eventually deducted the said N639,711.78 from my entitlement, I again wrote to him (Hon Emeka Ihedioha), through his Media Adviser, Mr Steve Osuji. Again, he never dignified me with a mere response.
The way the debt incurred by Hon Ihedioha through his aide was pushed to me and the way Mr Victor Ifijeh-led management of Vintage Press Limited, Publisher of The Nation handled the whole matter have become too painful to bear. It looks like a well contrived conspiracy to force someone to pay another person’s bills.
Because the people involved in this unfair treatment are powerful public figures who probably feel they can trample on a helpless Nigerian and force him to pay for a debt he never contracted, I have no option than to call on the good people of Nigeria to come to my aide and help me recover the
N639,711.78 the Management of The Nation newspaper forcefully took from me instead of from Imo State Government, Hon Emeka Ihedioha or Mr Steve Osuji.