Destroys 8,950 copies of ‘bad press’ to appease Waziri
The management of Western Publishing Company Limited, publishers of the Nigerian Compass and The Westerner, has embarked on moves to placate if not compromise, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the case of corruption and economic sabotage brought against it at the commission by a former Editor of its Sunday title, Mr. Dotun Oladipo.
The company on Wednesday destroyed 8,950 copies of the pullout of its Thursday edition that contained damaging and uncomplimentary reports on the Chairperson of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri.
It was learnt that the story, an interview with the President of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Mr. Olasupo Ojo, criticized Waziri’s leadership of the EFCC, describing the anti-graft agency as having become corrupt under Waziri.
In the interview, meant to have been published in the Law Personality column of Compass Law on Thursday, August 25, 2011, the rights activist had said among other things that, “Mrs. Waziri can never deliver anything positive in EFCC; I have told her on several occasions; I have challenged her to come and confront me in a debate – a public debate – and I will unmask her. She is not competent to be at the helms of affair of the EFCC; I think we should just stop deceiving Nigerians. EFCC is dead, only a change of guard will revive it.”
In the two-page interview conducted by Olugbenga Soyele, the CDHR chief added: “The woman is no longer worthy of that office; if she has credibility she should resign. I am telling her to resign and go back to retirement….”
The interview, scheduled for publication in the pullout pages of the newspaper was on Pages 14 and 18.
However, after the printing of the 8,950 copies of the pullout was concluded in the wee hours of Wednesday, the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of the Nigerian Compass, Mr. Sina Kawonise, spotted what he considered an opportunity to appease Waziri.
Kawonise stopped press and ordered the destruction of the 8,950 copies of the newspaper, filling the pages with other materials.
First thing at dawn, he was on the first flight to Abuja to show Waziri what he had done for her, hoping to leverage on it for a soft landing in the case of corruption and economic sabotage brought against the company by Oladipo.
Unfortunately, Kawonise, an active politician and immediate past Commissioner for Information in Ogun was not in luck, as his dubious scheme was flushed down the drain at the Commission. He was not even allowed to see Waziri in person.
EFCC sources however indicated that the action has further primed the Commission to continue to attend to the case brought against the company.
It would be recalled that in the letter of complaint sent to Waziri by Oladipo on July 1, 2011, entitled ACTS OF ECONOMIC SABOTAGE BY WESTERN PUBLISHING COMPANY LIMITED, he wrote: “I wish to bring to your notice the failure of Western Publishing Company to remit the pension fund of its staff, which it has been deducting since February 2008, including mine, and the withholding of the cooperative contributions of staff members, amounting to about N7 million. I joined the company on February 8, 2008 as the Editorial Page Editor. So also has the company not remitted my Pay As You Earn (PAYE).
“The company, publishers of the Nigerian Compass and The Westerner, has not remitted a kobo of the money it has been deducting from my salary for pension since February 2008 when I was employed. So also has it not fulfilled its own part of the bargain that requires it to add its own share to the pension fund.
“As for the cooperative fund, the company has been deducting from source the contribution of members of the Western Publishing Company Limited Cooperative Society. But it has failed, despite several meetings with the management, to remit the money to the society. Rather, elected officials of the society have not only been intimidated but victimised for demanding what rightfully belongs to members. My financial contribution to the society stands at N730,000:00 only. The company at present owes the society about N7 million.
“On the PAYE, I discovered that the company had not been remitting it when I attempted collecting my tax certificate. No staff of the company has a tax certificate. And this is because the company has not remitted anyone’s PAYE.
“My plea ma is for the commission to help investigate this gross act of economic sabotage and recover the money from the company, including the interests that would have accrued on both the pension fund and the cooperative contributions.”
True to type however, Kawonise, it was learnt has been using the opportunity of the several trips to the Commission to milk the company dry.
Sources within the Western Publishing Company Limited said Kawonise, since assumption of duty, has embarked on a spending spree.
For every trip he undertakes to Abuja to attend to EFCC summons, even when he does not spend the night there, he collects N300,000, while 80 percent of the company’s outstation correspondents have not been paid for the past one year.
Workers at the headquarters also have arrears of unpaid salaries and allowances while Sina Kawonise junkets with company fund.
A source in the company said: “It is now an everyday thing. The man (Kawonise) collects money as he likes and he does not even bother to retire same. Everyone here is tired and frustrated. And this is in the face of unpaid salaries, which has risen in excess five months. In fact, he recently collected N500,000 from the company for the purchase of a new engine for his personal car, a Toyota Camry, which he said he wants to use as official car.”
According to another source, the new management of the company has since converted it to a ‘market place’ for corruption of all kinds.
Said he, “You do not need to search too deep, just scratch a little and you watch the worms crawl out. It’s that bad”