The now celebrated case of missing bailout fund case between the Publisher of Watchdog Newspaper, Comrade Precious Nwadike and the former Chief of Staff to the Governor Okorocha, Mr Uche Nwosu resumed at an Owerri Magistrate, where the new defense counsel Barr A.I Nwachukwu applied for record of proceedings and time to enable him prepare for defense of his client, Comrade Precious Nwadike, who is standing trial on allegation of criminal defamation, arising from Watchdog Newspaper’s publication which reported that part of the huge bailout fund released to Imo state for payment of workers and pensioners was stolen from the house of the then Chief of Staff.
When the case came up yesterday upon application for the proceedings, the prosecuting counsel objected to the application but was over-ruled by the presiding magistrate, who later adjourned the matter to February 8, 2019, for continuation of the case.
Meanwhile, a cross section of Imolites have continued to condemn the reported incessant threat to the lives of the journalist/publisher and other staff of the Watchdog Newspaper, as well as plots to close down the Newspaper house.
A retired civil servant and Permanent Secretary, Comrade F.I Agba, in his reaction said that, if those in the corridors of power and government, claim that no money was either stolen or missing, how come that they have been unable to pay pensioners their pension arrears. He condemned all the assaults on Comrade Precious Nwadike and watchdog Newspaper, for playing their role of informing the people.
Others who spoke in response also condemned the threat and attack on media house, urging those who are aggrieved to drag Mr Adams Oshiomhole to court, who on his own came to Imo state to say that money was stolen.
In a recent release on his online page, Comrade Nwadike narrated his ordeals in the hands of Uche Nwosu, since December 2015. Read extracts from him;
In case you have forgotten the gist, on the 10th of December, 2015 at about 10:30Am,an errand boy working for Uche Nwosu, Mr Hamilton Onuchukwu led over 20 armed police men from Monitoring team, a section of the state police command to invade my office. They broke into the main entrance to the building at No 3 Zander street,Owerri, handcuffed and whisked me away like a common criminal.
I was subsequently detained in Imo State police command in such tortuous and inhabitable environment from where I was later arraigned in court for a 13 counts charge bordering on criminal defamation as hurriedly concocted by Uche Nwosu and his cohorts.
Till date, I have remained a regular visitor to different courts in Owerri including the appeal court while our traducer who keeps denying that no money was stolen from his house also visits ICPC and EFCC but desperately wants us to do a retraction or get a judgment to exonerate himself from the story and be free from anti graft agencies.
It is also on record that the IPO, Mr Ezeji from Anambra State that investigated the alleged missing bailout fund story which led to arrest of suspects working at Nwosu’s palatial home was later transferred to Kogi State where he died mysteriously. Other police officers involved in this matter have long been posted out of Imo state police command.
I have severally raised alarm over threats to my life and that of Watchdog staff. It is on record that on two occasions goons loyal to Uche Nwosu were seen around my office for reasons I consider sinister. Petitions have been written with phone numbers attached, not even an invitation to substantiate our claim. May be our lives are less important to the authorities that be.
From our sweat, for a Newspaper that was barely a year at the time they attacked us, We have spent well over #15million naira defending the Newspaper and yours truly in the case. Thanks to Prof FC Dike (SAN), other lawyers who have shown solidarity.
As a media house, if practicing investigative journalism is a sin, we want to be guilty of it. Let those who persecute and prosecute us using tax payers’ money explain why pensioners have not been paid their pensions even after such huge sum of money was released to the state.
I have severally maintained, threat to kill or jail can’t solve any problem, only accountability, payment of these dying pensioners and recall of the cook, house boy and the police men arrested and sacked after the theft to explain what transpired, can. Untill these are done, no retraction!
It will be recalled that at the inception of President Buhari’s government in 2015,some governors who had squandered monies meant for payment of pension and salary during the build up to 2015 general election applied for bailout fund. Funny enough, Imo state which is economically more viable than other south Eastern States applied for a whopping sum of #26.8Billion and was given whereas Anambra, Ebonyi, others never applied for any. The governor later appointed his son-inlaw, Nwosu who was neither a civil servant nor government appointee but a domestic staff as chairman of the bailout fund disbursement committee with Accountant General, others whose money it was as members of the committee. Meanwhile, the case continues next month.