Leading technology company in Nigeria, Zinox Technologies Limited, owned by Mr. Leo Stan Ekeh has dared Premium Times, an online news publication, to show proof of any criminal court case or indictment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Police against it or any of its sister companies. Zinox’s sister companies include Zinox Telecoms, Technology Distributions Limited (TD) as well as any of its staff.
In a swift reaction to the latest publication by Premium Times, Mr. Gideon Ayogu, Head of Corporate Communications, Zinox Group in a statement reiterated the exoneration of Zinox, TD and its staff by the EFCC and Police in the various investigations and reports into the alleged N170 million contract fraud, and challenged the medium “to toe the path of honour and responsible journalism by providing proof of its spurious allegations.”
According to Ayogu, “We maintain that there is no criminal case or report against Zinox, any of its sister companies or staff by the EFCC and the Nigerian Police. After diligent investigations by these agencies into the alleged fraud as petitioned by one Mr. Benjamin Joseph, the MD/CEO of Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited, the case was charged to court in Charge No. CR/216/16 (IGP vs. Benjamin Joseph), at the FCT High Court, Abuja, for false information,” he stated. He said further that the Police IPO who investigated the case has since given evidence in the proceedings absolving Zinox staff, whilst indicting Mr. Benjamin Joseph.
The statement continued, “Furthermore, the Honourable Attorney-General and Minister of Justice in a letter dated February 10th 2017, a letter (Ref: DPPA/PET/397/16) and another letter (Ref: DPPA/ADV:1009/14) dated May 7, 2018 and addressed to the Inspector-General of Police from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation (DPP) approved the prosecution of the said Mr. Joseph. The staff of Zinox were listed as witnesses and have since given their testimonies. Also, in the criminal case filed by the EFCC in Charge No. CR/244/2018 at the FCT High Court, Abuja, our staff were also listed as prosecution witnesses.
“The Proof of Evidence in both cases are there in the court’s records to prove the positions stated by Zinox of its innocence and those of its sister companies and staff. These are facts known to Premium Times and which can be verified from the court’s records. Does Premium Times expect the EFCC or Police to give us a physical letter of clearance when we committed no offence? “Premium Times claimed that they spoke with Mr. Frank Mba of the Nigerian Police and Mr. Tony Orilade of the EFCC and those gentlemen claimed to be unaware of the case and were rather engaged with the current election issues. Does Premium Times expect those gentlemen to be abreast of every criminal case in court in Nigeria? Does that mean that the EFCC and the Police have denied that Zinox and its staff were cleared?
“The cases have been moved to the courts, which means they are now in the public domain. One would, therefore, expect any responsible journalist to search the court’s records and be properly guided by the Proof of Evidence, which contains the findings of the investigative agencies. It is lazy for any journalist to sit in his office and spew spurious news that misleads the public. The series of petitions by Mr. Joseph, owner of Citadel Oracle Concepts, that his company was fraudulently used to secure a contract for the supply of HP laptops to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), was rigorously investigated by both the EFCC and the Police and at no point was any of the companies in the Zinox Group or its staff indicted in any of the reports submitted by both agencies on the matter.
“Instead, Mr. Joseph is presently undergoing criminal trial by the Police for false and misleading information in Charge No. CR/216/16 (IGP vs. Benjamin Joseph), at the FCT High Court, Abuja and our staff are witnesses in the suit. The attempt by Premium Times to arm-twist the Zinox Group and its Chairman to cave in to the suspicious demands of Mr. Joseph through the sustained publication of a series of spurious and unfounded allegations is laughable and a negation of the spirit and ethos of responsible journalism. We, therefore, challenge Premium Times to prove to the entire world any case against Zinox or any of its affiliates and staff by the EFCC or the Police. We also expect them to counter any of the points thoroughly investigated and reported by several credible media establishments.”
Ayogu’s statement concluded by saying, “We are an ethical company and will continue to resist any attempts by anyone to blackmail us. It is of note that Mr. Leo Stan Ekeh and his group have been in business championing the growth of the ICT industry in Nigeria for more than 35 years. There has never been any single case of fraud or criminality levelled against any company or staff in the group by anybody. It is, therefore, mischievous for anyone to conceive that the group would now conspire to forge documents to perpetrate a fraud of N170million. We consider this an insult not only to the Zinox Group but also to other successful Nigerian corporates.”