Princewill: Casualty Of Campaign Of Calumny– Part One

By Hector Spiff

At the fourth week of February 2010, the publicity secretary of Rivers State branch of Action Congress, Chief Chukwuemeka Eze drew the attention of the public to a grand scheme, which according to him is three pronged , code named, “Operation Destroy Tonye Princewill (TP) and Amaechi” aimed at to assassinate, destroy the foundation of state chapter of the party (AC) and subsequently hijack its machinery, media war to mar and malign the integrity and personalities of the leadership of opposition in Rivers State and the Government of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi. The press statement made available to the fourth estate has this as its subject: “Prince Tonye Princewill's High Rising Profile Earns Him The Wrath Of Political Opponents In Rivers State As Plots To Smear His Image, Hijack The Party And Assassinate Him & His Lieutenant Thickens”

However, the press release which was not carried by most of the regional, local and national dailies or internet based media web sites for one reason or the other, has today become a serious issue within the Rivers State political system.

It is crucial to call to mind and for the records, that the National Network Newspapers, Vol. 7 No.7 page 2, published on February 24 - March, 2010 with the AC leader's picture and front page bold caption "N5B SCAM - PRINCE TONYE PRINCEWILL ARRESTED IN P.H. The reports ultimate aim was not only to malign, slander but also present the Prince as a fraud to rational entities who are not only resident in Nigeria but also beyond the shores of this country. The malicious publication alleged that:

1. United Bank for Africa PLc wrote a petition against Prince Tonye Princewill for presenting snake oil company (River Drill Group) to dupe the bank of N530 million which he refused to pay.

2. He was arrested and detained in a hotel while cooling off.

3. His account was frozen.
4. His International Passport was seized.

5. He had no contract with the Rivers State Government then.

Ever since its publication, series of reactions and condemnation have trailed it, with the the first salvo coming from the Performing Musicians, Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Rivers State Chapter, led by its Chairman, Mr. Arthur Pepple Jnr. who paid the Prince of the Niger Delta Politics a camaraderie call in his residence in Port Harcourt on Thursday, 4th March, 2010 to condemn the news of the purported arrest and detention of the Prince by the Police. In his speech, Mr. Arthur Pepple Jnr. described the report as, “malicious, slanderous, libelous, and defamatory in its entirety and is the crudest and most banal form of yellow journalism”.

The Rivers State AC Youth Leaders comprising its Chairman, Mr. Norisia Pepple, State Exco and the 23 Youth Leaders from the Local Government Areas is another group that has lent their voice in condemning the claptrap publication. The AC Youth Leaders who aired their views through their spokesperson and Chairman averred “no matter the recent campaign of calumny against the leader, we are encouraged by his doggedness, charismatic, amiable and principled leadership qualities as he continues to map a worthy course for the opposition in the state”.

This recent onslaught on the personality of the Prince to undermine his political career, according to political observes may not be unconnected to an issue raised by one Rubby Obinna in an opinion piece titled, “Odili's Influence Amaechi's Fear” where he stated on the first paragraph, line 5: “ But we know where they (Amaechi and Princewill) are heading to: political oblivion”.

In the mean time, the solicitors to Prince Tonye Princewill have directed the management of the newspaper to withdraw the publication and go on its knees or face legal action within seven days. Time is really running out. A word of advice to National Network, at all times, cross check your facts and may God save you from this looming legal tsunami that is coming your way from the stable of Rivers State AC leader and his legion of legal icons. Forewarned is forearmed.

Hector Spiff, member of Writers Against Yellow Journalism wrote in from Onne, Rivers State.