Kedi Ohakim In Trouble? Fresh Facts Uncovered
The people of Imo State and Nigerians in general woke up Wednesday, 28 January 2015 to read frightening stories in the media on how former Governor Ikedi Ohakim assaulted and battered his friend, Dr. Viatlis Orikeze Ajumbe. Some of the reports in the newspapers said Chief Ohakim wanted to kill Dr. Ajumbe. Despite that the story was frightening, Nigeria Moment newspapers was shocked at how some of the newspapers cast their headlines, describing the former Governor and an accomplished Igbo leader as one gone gaga.
The use of the word “gaga” suggests madness, therefore Nigeria Moment held an editorial meeting where the matter was discussed. Nigeria Moment has a robust relationship with Dr. Ajumbe and was not comfortable with the development, especially as it was reported that there was an attempt to take his life by the former Governor. Moreover, everybody at Nigeria Moment refers to Dr. Ajumbe as Oga because we have a lot of respect for him. These raised a lot of concern during the editorial meeting and it was therefore decided that the story must be investigated.
The need to investigate the story was reinforced when during the meeting one of the editors told a story of what transpired between him and Dr. Ajumbe on 25 January 2015 at the Burma home of Chief Ohakim. He said that Ohakim had called a press briefing to disclose his support for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Imo State, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, and other candidates of the party for the general elections. According to him, Chief Ohakim collapsed his structure across the state to support the candidates of the PDP. He said he had thought that Dr. Ajumbe was in agreement with Chief Ohakim on his decision to support Ihedioha for the governorship election. He said he approached Dr. Ajumbe while Dr. Ajumbe was going home to know how he felt about Chief Ohakim's support for Ihedioha but was shocked by what Dr. Ajumbe told him in reply. He said that Dr. Ajumbe told him that something would happen on Tuesday, February 27, 2015 and that he had his own line of action since Chief Ohakim had declared support for Ihedioha and that he was not going to follow him.
The Editor said Dr. Ajumbe asked him to call him on Tuesday but that he did not did not call him because he forgot. The Editor also disclosed that he has had text message conversations with Ajumbe on Wednesday, 28 January 2015 alerting him that Chief Ohakim was killing someone in his house at Prefab Owerri and asking him to come quickly. The Editor also said that Dr. Ajumbe had further text message conversation with him on the evening of same day asking him to come to Salvation Hospital Owerri the following day (Thursday 29) where he said he was admitted. The Editor tendered the text messages during the editorial meeting. It was then that this newspaper began to link the story to the text messages and conversation Dr Ajumbe had with Editor on 25 January, and immediately a team led by this reporter was assigned to investigate the story.
The text message conversations between Dr. Ajumbe and the Editor reads: and I quote: “Come to OHAKIM OWERRI house OHAKIM is killing somebody. Come now” (2:29pm Wednesday). “I am on admission at salvation hospital inside St. Johns lab. MCC road OWERRI” (8:22pm). The Editor replied: “What happened?” “Ohakim's brutality”, said Dr. Ajumbe (8:28pm). “He attacked you? What went wrong?”, the Editor asked again, but he replied: “Come to the hospital tomorrow morning by 9”. Insisting on details the Editir said: “I am out of town. But give me some details.” Then came the shocker from Dr. Ajumbe: “Too weak and on drug”. Not satisfied, the Editor wished him and said: “So sorry. God will make you recover quickly”.
The need to investigate the story was in tandem with the editorial policy of this newspaper which was set to practice investigative and fair journalism devoid of rancor. Moreover, there are too many litigations in the media industry bothering on uninvestigated reports. Moreover, there are economic consequences in the allegation.
In the course of the investigation this newspaper spoke to about 30 persons including lawyers, the police, politicians, Dr. Ajumbe's colleagues in All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the Congress of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA), some reporters in some media houses in the state, Chief Ohakim's security men, Dr. Ajumbe himself, his lawyer, some government officials, some staff of Salvation Hospital Owerri, some bank officials and some aides to Chief Ohakim. In the course of the investigation we also obtained text messages of conversations between Dr. Ajumbe and the bank manager in Owerri, text message conversations between Dr. Ajumbe and Chief Ohakim, and of course the text message conversation between the Editor and Dr. Ajumbe. These were analysed.
There is no doubt that Chief Ohakim issued a cheque to Dr. Ajumbe, but what our investigation has shown is that Chief Ohakim did not issue a dud cheque to Dr Ajumbe. We also obtained a photocopy of the cheque and analyzed it with some officials and lawyers. One question that must be answered by Dr. Ajumbe is what constitutes a dud cheque. According to lawyers and bank officials and lawyers, a cheque is said to be dud when the issuer is unable to pay and when the cheque has stayed for six months. But in Dr. Ajumbe's case, the cheque was issued in January and was to be cashed on 13 January 2015 and barely a week later Dr. Ajumbe declared the cheque dud and rushed to the press.
According to an email sent to Chief Ohakim by Dr Ajumbe on January 23, 2015, which Nigeria Moment obtained, reads: “I respectfully write to inform you that the Fidelity Bank cheque with number 00956739 for N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira), which you gave to me on January 13, 2015, as part of the N1,550,000, you are owing was returned by my bank as dud cheque”. This scenario runs fowl of the period of six month after which e cheque can be declared dud, and it is unimaginable that a contractor could within one week declare a cheque issued to him as dud and then refuse every effort made to give him cash and only to rush to the press.
This gives room to suspect something untoward. Nigeria Moment also found it curious that after Chief Ohakim declared his support for Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha Dr. Ajumbe refused to collect cash and return the cheque or return the cheque and collect another one, and it raised the question of whether there is something political in the saga. A respected traditional ruler confirmed that Ajumbe refused was chased about with cash and that he refused to collect the money and has refused to do something else with the cheque except what he has done. This rush to the press to declare the cheque dud after Chief Ohakim's declaration of support for Ihedioha also gives room to suspect political colouration of the matter.
Dr Ajumbe, having declared the cheque dud in one week refused to collect cash from the bank manager, even refusing all entreaties to make him collect the money. The several effort made by Chief Ohakim's Bank Manager to give Dr. Ajumbe cash is proof that Chief Ohakim had the capacity to pay and was willing to pay. This defeats Dr. Ajumbe's claim of dud cheque and raises the suspicion of sinister motive on Dr. Ajumbe against Chief Ohakim. The text message we got that showed that Dr. Ajumbe was being pursued by the Bank Manger reads: “Sir, my name is Okey Opara of Fidelity Bank PLC. H.E informed me about a cheque of N500,000 you that is yet to be paid. I am calling for us to agree on how you will get the cash but you didn't give me chance. Kindly allow us resolve this. Sir, I spoke with you on Friday concerning the money you were to receive from H.E. I have been able to get cash from him and I am calling you so I can meet you. I made this promise to you during our last chat with you on this matter. Sir, Uche (his aide) just told me that he has spoken with you; and that you are expecting my call.
Please tell me if I should return the cash to H.E. I thought you should be comfortable.” Another message from the bank manager reads: “I have been able to get the cash from him and calling you I can meet you and retrieve the cheque while handing you over the cash since you are not comfortable. As for knowing me, I am sure you do. At least I was able to know about the transaction, got your number and also got the cash.” But going through the publication of Dr Ajumbe's press conference we discovered that he admitted being chased around by bank officials but at some point refused to disclose the fact, saying: “When I complained about the outcome of the cheque, the manager of the bank, FidelityBank, later called me to return the cheque, promising to issue another one, an offer which I declined due to its authenticity”.
That Dr. Ajumbe refused to collect cash from the bank manager is attested to by his lawyer when he fielded questions from our reporter after addressing the press on Thursday, 5 January 2015, saying: “Yes! Because even when he (Dr. Anjumbe) paid the cheque in to his account it bounced and was told that the cheque is outdated and that the account has been dormant since over two years. So I don't think it is wise for him to go to meet the said Bank Manager because with all he has seen he realized that there are issues with the cheque so that could also be a plot to get him to a close place and silence him and keep the deal a secret.” This happened before the incident in Chief Ohakim's house, and if Dr. Ajumbe was afraid of meeting with a bank manager to collect cash for fear that he might be harmed, why did he go to Chief Ohakim's house for the same issue? Why did he not opt that the money be brought to him at a police station? Why did he not go with security since he also claimed to have gone to Chief Ohakim's house with two security aides, as according to his lawyer: 'two of his guards accompanied him but when they got to Ohakim's sitting room they were chased out by him and they waited outside'?”
Our investigation also showed that Chief Ohakim has been giving Dr. Ajumbe money. We discovered that when Dr. Ajumbe travelled to the United States for a private mission Chief Ohakim gave him a cheque of N1m which he cashed. He was also given an undisclosed amount of dollars. It was also learnt that on his return Dr. Ajumbe pleaded with Chief Ohakim for some money which was also given him.
Nigeria Moment could not establish a business relationship between Dr. Ajumbe and Chief Ohakim, outside their political relationship. Aalyzing Dr. Ajumbe's letters obtained in the course of our investigation, we were alarmed that such letters that can at best be described as personal documents of the author were bandied about as official documents. We saw that the letters were not acknowledged and that there was no contract agreement between chief Ohakim and Dr. Ajumbe to do any job. We were shocked that a CEO could proceed to do jobs worth millions of naira without a proper contract, and in the absence of a contract agreement, reply to Dr. Ajumbe's letter or any authentic letter on the claimed business relationship, the only conclusion available is that there was no business relationship between them. The claim in Dr. Ajumbe's petition to the Commissioner of Police Imo State dated 29 January 2015- the day Dr. Ajumbe was said to be unconscious in the hospital and a day after the incident - which was acknowledged by Sgt Aruku Thomas on 30 January, 2015 that: “consequent on successful bargain and negotiations, our client acting for his company agreed on terms with Chief Dr. Ikedi Ohakim to design, package and produce the latter's campaign jingles and videos. The contract mandate given to our client's company included the loading of the said jingle and video on youtube social media via internet. To get the job done, Chief Ikedi Ohakim agreed to pay our client's company the sum of one million, four hundred and sixty thousand naira (1,460,000) only” could not be verified or proved to be correct as there is no reply from Chief Ohakim nor any contract agreement between them.
Nigeria Moment also obtained a letter from Dr. Ajumbe to dated November 22, 2014 with the caption: Media production costs, wherein he contracted his claim of N1,460,000 as the cost of the media job done by his company, whereas the quoted figure on the letter he sent to Chief Ohakim which he also tendered as evidence of their business relationship and Choef Ohakim's indebtedness to him was N2,150,000. Moreover, the letter was not acknowledged by anybody, which also shows that Dr. Ajumbe did not send any such letter to Chief Ohakim. This is further shown by fact there was no reply to the letter.
This makes the letter a private document of the author, and the lawyers we spoke to said the document cannot stand any scrutiny in court as it is not authentic, since what it shows is that it is only Dr. Ajumbe that is aware of the existence of the letter. We did not also see any letter mandating Dr. Ajumbe's company to do any media job for Chief Ohakim's campaign, and this gave us reasons to doubt Dr. Ajumbe's claim of business relationship with Chief Ohakim.
In the course of the investigation, Nigeria Moment discovered that Dr. Ajumbe hads a robust relationship with some government officials, and we suspected that he was mole in Chief Ohakim's campaign organization. We gathered that Dr. Ajumbe was regularly trading on information on the goings-on in Chief Ohakim's campaign with a certain government official.
We gathered that a certain top government official called the bank to get the details of the cheque issued to Dr Ajumbe, just few hours it was presented to the bank. We also gathered from a top government official that Dr. Ajumbe was feeding the government with a blow by blow account of the goings-on in Chief Ohakim's camp.
But did Chief Ohakim assault his friend, Dr. Ajumbe? Our investigation showed that on the day he had the injury in Dr Ohakim's guest house at Owerri Dr. Ajumbe phoned Chief Ohakim and requested for a meeting purportedly to discuss unsettled bills and equally inform the latter on how disappointed he felt for not being consulted before embracing Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.
This was granted and the time and venue were communicated accordingly. As they were discussing during the said meeting in a friendly note, little did Dr. Ajumbe realize that Chief Ohakim observed how he was secretly recording the conversation. At a point, Chief Ohakim promptly asked why he was recording the discussions in his house, which he denied. When Chief Ohakim tried to reach for the recorder, it fell off on the floor. In a frenzy to conceal, he dashed for it, slipped and hit his head on the edge of the centre table.
Surprisingly, Dr. Ajumbe who was at this point bleeding refused every entreaty to clean the blood stain before going home. He shouted that Chief Ohakim wanted to kill him. Everyone present was shocked on how he turned the accident against Chief Ohakim. It was then that he exposed his plot and ploy.
In view of the above, there is need for a detailed account of what transpired as Dr. Ajumbe made moves to go to his house. Firstly, Dr. Ajumbe drove out and parked beside Chief Ohakim's gate. He asked one of the men with him to take photographs of him as he backed Chief Ohakim's house as a background. Indeed, his partner took several shots. Secondly, Dr. Ajumbe came back and sat at the gate with the security men.
He made calls and sent text messages. At this point in time, Chief Ohakim was informed that Dr. Ajumbe returned back and was at the gate. Immediately, Chief Ohakim went to the gate and both of them walked back into the house. Dr. Ajumbe was assisted by the aides to clean himself up of the blood stain.
Thereafter, Chief Ohakim led Dr. Ajumbe into the sitting room where they continued their discussion. This reporter was told that Chief Ohakim saw Dr. Ajumbe off to his car later and he drove off by himself directly to his house. In fact, this reporter was also told that one of the advisers of Chief Ohakim, Chuk Chukemeka, followed Dr. Ajumbe to his house. It was said that Dr. Ajumbe got home, changed his clothes, put on a cap and drove out to a meeting. In fact, the said adviser to Chief Ohakim stayed behind in his house for another one hour with Dr. Ajumbe's wife and kids.
We also observed a lot of inconsistencies and contradictions in the accounts from Dr. Ajumbe and his lawyer. Whereas Dr Ajumbe's said in his petition to the police that “at the meeting, Chief Ikedi Ohakim flared at our client and attacked him with an iron rod which he repeated hit him on the head and other parts of his body until he became unconscious. Our client passed and only regained consciousness when he saw himself at the hospital bed”, Dr. Ajumbe addressing the press at the hospital said, as reported by Newspoint, “the immediate past Governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim was said to have went 'gaga' Wednesday 28 January 2015 at his prefab residence when he angrily smashed the head of his bosom friend Dr. Vitalis Orikeze Ajumbe with a sledge hammer over the debt he owed him for challenging him to his face, demanding the release of the money”.
Nigeria Moment also wondered how the same person who became unconscious and passed out but only regain consciousness when he saw himself on the hospital bed could be the same person who, according to Dr. Ajumbe and his lawyer, refused to any assistance from Chief Ohakim. Dr. Ajumbe's lawyer said: “Yes. You know Dr. Ajumbe is advanced.
He is in his late 50s or so and he lost a lot of blood. But he was conscious to refuse Ohakim's Doctor attending to him. He was rushed to the hospital by his guards he came with. But note also that Ohakim when he realized what he has done, helped in cleaning the blood gushing out from his head and even offered him the sum of N50,000 for his treatment which he refused”.
The claim of Dr Ajumbe becoming unconscious and passing out is further punctured by the CCTV clip which showed Dr. Ajumbe driving out of Chief Ohakim's compound by himself in the company of one of Chief Ohakim's advisers who accompanied Dr. Ajumbe home. The same aide was with Dr. Ajumbe' family when he changed clothes and drove out by himself, only to check into the hospital after his meeting with a certain government official.
Nigeria Moment wanted to know whether there was apolitical factor in the Ajumbesaga, and our question was answered when we obtained a text message which Dr. Ajumbe sent to Chief Ohakim after he collapsed his political structure across the state to the governorship candidate of the PDP, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, saying: “Sir, your decision to collapse into Emeka Ihedioha team without first addressing your campaign team is very wrong. I shall soon address the press on my next action.
Due to this, I have detached from you politically. You still remain my friend if you like”. We also tried to link this text message to the actions and press statements made after he sent the message and after Chief Ohakim chose to support his party's candidate, and this led to our conclusion of a premeditated action anchored on political differences, instead of business relationship.
We also recalled a publication Dr. Ajumbe made in December 2014 where he disclosed that he would have ran for the governorship election if Chief Ohakim had not presented himself for the election. We recalled that in the publication Dr. Ajumbe had said that Owerri Zone should bury their ambition to produce the governor of the state in 2015. We also gathered that Dr. Ajumbe does not like Ihedioha's candidature and has said severally that Ihedioha will not win the elections.
Our overall conclusion following our investigation is that the Ajumbe saga which is aimed at tarnishing Chief Ohakim's image is purely a political relationship that didn't not go the way Dr. Ajumbe planed, and from all indications he is being smart in what appears to us as a grand scheme for something untoward. No business relationship has been established existing between Dr Ajumbe and Chief Ohakim and the claim of a dud cheque against Chief Ohakim cannot be sustained as the cheque was just one week old with Dr Ajumbe.
Moreover, Chief Ohakim has shiwn the capacity and willingness to pay cash but the efforts were rebuffed as Dr Ajumbe suddenly did not need money but curiously became afraid of collecting money from a bank manager but ready to hold a meeting in Chief Ohakim's house. This investigation is still ongoing to unravel the motive in Dr. Ajumbe's actions.
Nigeria Moment is worried that politicians in the state tend to abuse the press by bothering the press with all kinds of issues, including issues that should be resolved otherwise. In this instance, the politicians have misused the press to make a purely political relationship look criminal and a minor accident look like an act of brutality.
This trend should be checked if the press will live up to its time honoured obligations. It is equally worrisome how the press has been used to constantly demonize our political leaders. If this trend is not halted we will wake up one morning to see that we no longer have people we can call leaders just because the media was used to destroy them all.
There is also the need for the media to always investigate it report. The case with Chief Ohakim and the media seems to be one in which the media, especially the media in Owerri, seems to investigate, and in several of those cases it has been proved to be false allegation which the media could have unraveled and save the state some pains. While Chief Ohakim was the Governor of Imo State between 2007 and 2011 there was the story of his assaulting a Rev Father.
Despite the gravity of the allegation the newspapers in Owerri did not investigate the matter but they went on to dish out the story that was celebrated for a long time, and at the end of the day that particular incident became the strongest propaganda tool that caused Chief Ohakim his reelection in 2011. It took only Rev Father Ejike Mbaka about four years to unravel the facts of the matter and declare that Chief Ohakim was not guilty. He (Rev Fr Mbaka) too was deceived to believe the story of Chief Ohakim's assault of Rev Father Eustace.
He said all his efforts to see Fr Eustace had been rebuffed by the leadership of the Catholic Church in Owerri and that it took him a long time to meet with Fr Eustace, by which time he said the damage had been done. The question to ask is: why was the media in Owerri not willing to investigate the matter?
The assault on the Rev Father was not the only time the Owerri media had been unfair to Chief Ohakim. Remember the Nworie dredging saga where the Owerrri media claimed that Chief Ohakim paid about N9.5bn to a certain local contractor in Owerri to handle the project, whereas the project was an NDDC project; and Chief Ohakim as the Governor of Imo State could not have spent that sum on the project.
Chief Ohakim's explanation on the matter did not help, even when the media made no effort to investigate the matter and report factually. It took years for an Imo son who is is not a journalist, Barr Humphery Anumudu, to reveal that the reports were false and that the project was actually a Federal Government project.
There was another incident where the Owerri media feasted on the report that Ohakim borrowed N100bn from the stock exchange. But years after that unfair media treatment, it has been revealed that Chief Ohakim only borrowed N18bn from the stock market but only accessed a fraction of that money before he left. In an interactive session with Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) Imo State branch in Owerri on Thursday, the Deputy Governorship candidate of the Accord Party in Imo State for the 20 February 2015 election, Dr. Fabian Ihekweme, disclosed that the report that Chief Ohakim borrowed N100bn from the Stock Exchange was incorrect, saying that it was only N18 and that Chief Ohakim only assessed N3bn before he left. He said the balance of the money was what Governor Okorocha feasted on after he was sworn in.
Why did it take long for the truth to come forward and why is it that it has never been the media that unravels these facts but it is the media that dishes out the stories? What has happened in Imo State is that the media seems to have abdicated its function of investigation to non-journalists, and even when the facts are unraveled by non-journalists the media would look the other way and pretend as if nothing has happened.
The media did not take note of the fact that no government could borrow more than 50% of its budget. And today when you consider the commercial borrowing of the state government now no one would be in doubt that Chief Ohakim did not deserve the kind of media treatment he has got in the state.
Despite the fact that the unfair treatment Chief Ohakim got from the media contributed to his losing his reelection bid in 2011it has afforded the state the opportunity to taste another government, and now we can compare notes. Chief Ohakim would have completed his projects if he had won the 2011 election, and today those projects are trapped, and state's money is trapped too. Today the 10,000 jobs Chief Ohakim created has been destroyed on the altar of politics.
We can now see that the state economy has gone down and that despite the free education mantra in the state the standard of education has fallen. We now have a government that only sings about the rule of law but cannot practice it. These are some of the economic consequences that occur when the media does not always investigate its reports.
Nigeria Moment also observed that Chief Ohakim has not made any comment since the Ajumbe saga. This silence is not golden. Nigeria Moment therefore calls on him to speak up now, even as we call on Dr Ajumbe to come up clean on the matter.