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POLICE CHARGE ACTORS TO COURT

Source: nigeriafilms.com

The stage appears set for a long legal battle as the police made good their promise of charging to court last week Tuesday, Messrs Prince Ifeanyi Dike, Emma Oguguah, Hakeem Rahman and Okey McAnthony Onyegbulem a.k.a Okey Bakassi.

The quartet face a two-count charge of forgery and threat to life. Last week, it was reported that the police at Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos, arrested and detained Dike, Oguguah, Rahman and Bakassi over the lingering crisis in the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN). They were later granted bail under rather stringent conditions. President of the body, Ejike Asiegbu who made the allegations and caused the police to arrest the members of the AGN's Board of Trustees, has been at daggers drawn with the quartet since he assumed office over a year ago.

The hearing is fixed for October 10 at Court 4, Igbosere Magistrate Court, Lagos, at 10a.m. None of the principal actors in the unfolding drama were ready to comment on the matter.

The actors' guild had been embroiled in a protracted crises since last April when Ejike Asiegbu, its president sacked the chairman of Lagos State chapter, Remi Ohajianya. The embattled state chapter chairman, who was the Chairman of all other state chairmen, reportedly ran to the Board of Trustees members comprising Dike, Bakassi, Ogugua and Sonny McDon. They made attempts to mediate in the matter but Ejike with the backing of his executive insisted that Ohajianya must go on an indefinite suspension. Reputed to be 'owners' of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, the Board of Trustees members insisted that all must return to status quo. The battle line was drawn.

Asiegbu invited the police; all the parties were invited to Alagbon Close where the police also tried to mediate on the matter. Again, it ended in a stalemate. A twist however came when members of the board invoked a section of the constitution which Asiegbu claimed was forged, and 'impeached' the actor. They set up an interim committee headed by another actor, Hakeem Rahman. He now parades himself as the new president of AGN. In fact, his inauguration took place at Cottage Hotel, off Opebi Road, Ikeja, Lagos, last month.

Irked by the move, Asiegbu plotted the fall of the Board. He reportedly went back to Alagbon and allegedly produced evidence to the fact that the constitution the board members used in installing Rahman as a factional president was forged. It was on this strength and the alleged threat to his life, that the police at Alagbon, who are familiar with the case, invited the parties.

Critics are of the opinion that the ongoing tussle may degenerate if nothing is done to end it now. Ohajianya had gone on television to display scars on his back allegedly inflicted by thugs sent by Asiegbu, the president on his part declared on radio that his life is being threatened and assassins are on his trail. The die is cast as it seems, but Asiegbu still claims there is no cause for alarm. "I remain the president of AGN till my tenure expires and there is nothing anybody can do about that. Anybody parading himself as president has a case with the police at Alagbon and eventually the court. That is the situation, I am not intimidated."

The situation, critics hold, does not portend any good omen in the actors' body home. Many reason that going to court would finally destroy the thin fabric of sanity left in the association, if concerned elders in the industry do nothing. The Guardian learnt that there is an ongoing move by some group of concerned stakeholders, to lead a delegation to Arts Patriarch Ambassador Segun Olusola, to mediate on the matter that appears to be getting out of hand. They reasoned that the different opposition camps that over time had formed behind each character, cheering them on, are indeed those fuelling the crisis. "The earlier somebody take reasonable steps into the matter, the better for the industry," the stakeholders reasoned.