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Battle Of Telegraphs: Kalu Edges Out TY Danjuma's CBO Capital Partners

By Ada Okpala
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In what many industry analysts have termed a record that should interest the managers of Guinness Book of Records, Nigeria's shortest-lived daily newspaper, Today's Telegraph, may as well hold this achievement globally.

Today's Telegraph was launched in September 2013, three months after its website kicked off. The daily paper, which operated a free model and was circulated in Lagos, ended its short spell of print version in November 2013 in unclear circumstances. The paper was published by a new media firm, Oberoche Limited, which is owned by CBO Capital Partners, an investment advisory and project development firm which claims that it aims to service and support business growth in Africa.

A tussle is currently ongoing between aggrieved employees of the short-lived paper and CBO Capital Partners over claims that the latter stopped paying salaries from October 2013 till when the web version of the paper went offline in May 2014. The workers also claim CBO violated an agreement reached late April 2014 to begin payment of the owed wages.

The employees also accused CBO of operating in similar fraudulent manner in several investments; alleging that the firm is being used by a former Minister of Defence, T. Y. Danjuma, as a money laundering vehicle.

Shortly after the launch of Today's Telegraph, the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, who also owns The Sun Newspaper, launched another newspaper, The New Telegraph; an action that industry sources say was aimed at fighting Mr Danjuma over the brand name that Mr Orji had acquired years ago. It is not yet clear if this action led to the premature demise of Today's Telegraph. However, staff of the paper claim that CBO Partners began acting 'strange' after news that a rival Telegraph was about to be launched.

'We think CBO Capital Partners decided to cash in on the situation by selling the brand to Orji Uzor Kalu,' said one of the aggrieved staff who asked that his identity be protected. 'There was no other way to explain the sudden strange actions that were taken. First, we stopped printing for a few days and then resumed. And stopped again. It was all so childish on the part of our owners even when they themselves confirmed that the paper was already making waves in Lagos.

We believe CBO Capital Partners have behaved very irresponsibly in this matter. We don't understand their intention in starting a newspaper and then trying to sell out after just two months and subsequently pulling the plugs after that didn't work. They claim to be a project development firm so how does this paint them?

They owe us six months salaries and have severally defaulted on promises to pay. Even the widow of one of our colleagues, Sylvester Awenlimobor, who died in a road accident while on his way to cover a story, was only paid the money owed her husband after months of protest. Credible investment firms don't behave like that; but then we now know that they are actually fraudsters masquerading as an investment firm.'

CBO Capital Partners is run by three partners, Chuka Mordi, Bex Nwawudu and Olamide Akpata. Messrs Mordi and Nwawudu are former bankers and investment analysts while Mr Akpata is a lawyer. In November 2013, CBO Capital Partners acquired 41 million ordinary shares of Union Dicon Salt Plc in a deal valuing the company at N8.4 billion. Union Dicon Salt is chaired by T.Y Danjuma, and was Nigeria's largest salt producer.