Employees of short-lived newspaper, Today’s Telegraph, have accused the core investors of the paper, CBO Capital Partners, of fraud.
Today’s Telegraph was launched in September 2013, three months after its website kicked off. The paper, which operated a free model, 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.
Aggrieved employees claim that CBO Capital Partners are currently owing them six months salaries and recently violated an agreement reached late April to begin payment of the owed wages. The employees also accused CBO Capital Partners of operating in similar fraudulent manner in several investments; alleging that the firm is being used by a former Minister of Defence, Gen. T. Y. Danjuma, as a money laundering vehicle.
“We had a recorded meeting with Chuka Mordi, one of the directors of CBO Capital Partners, on April 24, where he agreed to, in the presence of their lawyer, Faith Umenyi, pay two months of the owed arrears within ten days,” said one of the aggrieved staff who asked that his identity be protected. “We left that meeting only to get letters from Ms Umenyi asking us to agree that only five months wages are owed and asking that we sign a termination of employment form without specifying when we would be paid owed wages.
For most of us, this was the last straw. CBO Capital Partners have behaved very irresponsibly in this matter and we will fight them to make sure that they pay. We don’t understand their intention in starting a newspaper and then pulling the plugs after three months. Credible investors don’t behave like that; but then recent developments have shown us that they are not responsible investors but another vehicle by T. Y. Danjuma. Now that we have evidence that this is a case of fraud, we will be petitioning the EFCC to step in.”
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.
In that deal, CBO Capital Partners took over management of the company and pledged to restructure and recapitalise the ailing behemoth by the first quarter of 2014 with a view to recommence product distribution. However, as at May 2014, the only changes noticed so far at Union Dicon Salt is the announcement that Messrs Mordi and Nwawudu have been appointed as co-Managing Directors of the company, with Col. Henry Mgbemena (Retd), who was the acting Managing Director, returning to his former position as Executive Director, Production.
This investment, according to the employees of Today’s Telegraph, is a ploy by Gen. Danjuma to consolidate his already impressive business empire. The former defence minister currently owns Sapetro Petroleum, TY Holdings Limited, NAL-Comet Group, Tita-Kuru Petrochemicals Limited, Central Realties Limited, among others.