CONA: Who Is Sam Onwuemeodo Fighting?
Of course, it all started the first day the screaming headline came on the two local tabloids in Imo State: “Cona In Trouble For Allegedly Deceiving Okorocha Over Billboard.” Then, I furthered by knowing what really transpired between the duos. First, I started by reading the story line by line. It reads: “For allegedly deceiving Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State into believing that he constructed the giant billboard bearing his portrait in front of Rock-View Hotel (formerly Modotel) free of charge for the governor, the contractor, Prof Chinedu Asinu-Anosike popularly known as Cona, may be heading for trouble”.
Today, the story has grown like a baby into a full grown man. What am I really saying? It is not the main context again, but that of the submission and claims of Sam Onwuemeodo who is the Managing Director and Editor-In-Chief of White-Paper newspaper. Instead of the present issue which requested that the media platforms that are sued for N1 billion after they were expected to refute the story but could not, now it is Sam Onwuemeodo and that of those whom he thought the case was fueled to get at him.
As a columnist and editor-in-chief of White-Paper, he felt it was right for him to respond to a man that sued them for slandering his image. He implemented his strategy, and the plan was to bring those forces he thinks that might be fueling the case into having confusion. To that act, it's like fighting something that never existed.
Quite well, it emanated from a press conference organized by Mr. John Paul Ochemba of Rockview Hotel. Out of the ten media platforms that attended the briefing, it was White-Paper and Newspoint newspapers that succeeded in publishing, and so it was them, and Ochemba that Cona sued, not really a White-Paper affair alone.
No matter, I had earlier asked few people some things on this very issue, and I think it was exactly the same day D.O Nosike Esq. of Ndukwe Nnawuchi SAN & Co. called for the newspaper involved to refute the story. With a daring spirit which they all said, “we will meet him in court,” CONA did not stop but for the sake of clarity, he legally sued them.
However, the purpose of this piece is not really to why CONA sued the media platforms involved, but to why Sam Onwuemeodo took it personal by accusing that CONA's claims of having some forces surrounding it. To an extent he quoted, “And the suit was dated May 17, 2013 over the story published in December 2012. The copy of the suit was brought to our office on Wednesday, June 5, 2013, a day after the Supreme Court matter on the joinder appeal came up in Abuja and two days after we had rejected or refused to publish a material brought against Justice Goddy Anunihu because the name of the writer of the material was removed before being given to us”.
“Our suspicion is that CONA did not go to court against us. There were forces behind that”. That some people approached you on how to pull people down, does it really concern a suit CONA holds against your media platform in court? In the past, has CONA approached or have you come across his stories on the pages of newspaper where he threatened to deal with you? Who are you compiling all these cases for? Can you put in some sense of reasoning into what you have just written?
You first accused a man in your report that he deceptively claimed to be responsible for notable projects in the State. You categorically never stated that the bill board that was mounted inside the hotel premises, which has the portrait of the Governor, was done by the management of Rockview. But that Mr. Ochemba alleged that CONA has been going around, with the claim that he did the project free of charge, as a mark of his company's unalloyed support to the present administration. Also that Ochemba hinted that he used N2 Million for the production of the portrait, wondering why CONA should be alleged parading himself as one who did it free of charge for the governor.
Meanwhile, he forgot that it is also on record that John Paul Ochemba paid CONA firm N900, 000 for the billboard he presented to the management to have done with the sum of N2 Million. If there is any media platform that should be spared in this matter, I think it should be that of the Newspoint newspapers. They balanced their report by getting the second party's reaction towards the allegation. What did the professional White-Paper do? They went and published an allegation without getting to hear from CONA. And my editor-in-chief, Sam Onwuemedo sat in his office and asked them to roll. To roll a story that he came into conclusion that that was what happened, because maybe you have CONA on tape saying it.
Common Sam, who are the forces then? Were you meant not to be constructive in your writings, even by the way you boast to have been writing for years. Has the experience and professionalism diminished? You have ended up opening more wars against your person, adding that CONA indirectly gave you material to publish against Governor Okorocha and Justice Anunihu. If I may ask, are your facts on check?
Now, you have boasted again, “These people are just disturbing me for no just reason. Let them come out with whatever they have against me so that we can fight the war once and for all. I know them. I do not make trouble. I am a reserved and contented man. I do not chew more than I can swallow.”
Why did you not discuss it on different issue if actually they were not meant for CONA? Must the statement on your ordeal in journalism be attached with the suit CONA has against your media platform? The statement above is simply that of a confused fighter. If actually you have a war, then hit it and let anyone involved save his or her head. By the way we are all into this to save the nation from corruption, lies and deceit. Were you trying to divert the attention? No! You asked for it and you face it with your facts if you think you are on the right side. Common, if you win it calls for celebration!
Suddenly, the story has practically been turned to the case of your enemy fighting you and you plotting against your enemy. Yes! And the only way to fight your enemy is to make it dirty? Maybe it was for CONA to see that you have some secrets against him, probably if he doesn't reverse the court order you will be seen releasing the bombshell. But you stated it, “the whitepaper or Sam Onwuemedo has no problem of any kind with Mr. Anosike known in the State as CONA. But everybody in the State knows CONA's friend(s) with regard to the last administration”.
And so? If you know CONA as a man who dines and wine with your enemy and also while knowing that one day he might be used as a tool against you, why then did you accept a material that will at the end of the day find his trouble? Am I really against your wish publishing negative or positive stories when it calls for? No! You as an entity with Whitepaper newspaper is simply just the problem. You took it personal, because you felt because at night you dreamt of where people are pursing you and at morning the first knock on your door might probably be the enemy. My dear Sam, what actually do you think CONA holds against you when you are aware that your media platform was not only the media house he sued?
“Our suspicion is that CONA did not just go to court against us. There are forces behind that. For some months now I have been writing to inform Imo people about plot against the White-Paper and myself by some Abuja politicians.” Also, “And of all the newspapers that carried that story since 2012, White-Paper has been singled out for N1 billion libel suit. And we want readers to know about our suspicion over the suit.” Since 2012? Do you expect me to say that when one wakes, that's his morning? Probably no!
You got it wrong! If I must tell you, you should have waited to see what the matter would have generated before jumping into conclusion with your piece. Already we know your stand now; it is now war against anyone you see chatting or eating with the PDP. Besides, the CONA in person is a man we all know as a businessman to the core, not even a politician. A man whose business is to design and brand got favoured by the previous administration as a consultant and more likely as a contractor he is, would you as a liberal journalist tell him not to accept? No, please Sam can you just honestly answer me? Even in the past governments we know of some journalists who ended up becoming Chief Press Secretaries and Special Assistants on Media. If you are called for such position would you reject it? You see the point?
I know you Sam to be an unapologetic writer who is very calculative to issues, but with that very piece, I will admit that the present administration has certainly hijacked and mortgaged you. Why? “They said that I have neutralized all their efforts to get at Rochas over the sacking of Local Government Chairmen.” Really, you have now become the Rochas Okorocha's eyes that never existed? You have now become his media aides who are or were bemused?
My dear brother Sam, you should have been a bit sensitive and logical with your lines of writing. In fact, one crazy thing that a man can ever do is to fight a war without a mission statement. If actually you have issue with anybody would that really warrant you to attack people who are just asking for their rights? The first time this very issue came up, the same man called and made a release that the publication should be refuted. And within the period he asked for it, the two medium involved shunned him. My dear Sam, silence cannot be taking for golden.
The fact that he kept quite within that period was based on peacefulness and maturity. Approximately, the time elapsed and he sued the parties involved for N1 Billion naira. We've seen cases where Governor Godswill Akpabio presented a lecture, while making news, the Sun newspaper misquoted him, and after it got to his attention he called the editorial board to refute it. It was investigated, and after they honoured it and rendered their apologies. If I may ask, did the accused PDP political front-liners attend the press briefing your correspondent made the report from? Did the Ohakim or the outcome of the 2011 general election called for the press briefing that is causing this now? The fact that you refused to act as a tool to Pull Him Down (PHD) syndrome, does it really concerns CONA? Like you rightly stated, “we will meet him in court.”
Igwe Johnson Mark writes from Owerri. Email: [email protected]