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Friday, September 16, 2016

Fraud alert on blackmailer, Benjamin Joseph by Zinox

Our attention has been drawn to an on-going campaign of calumny by serial blackmailer, Mr. Benjamin Joseph, an indigene of Enugu State and purported owner of an Ibadan-based Technology Company, Citadel Oracle Concept, against the Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh which he has taken to the domain of Premium Times after other online and print media houses who confirmed his story as false refused to publish in a matter concerning a subject of criminal proceeding against him.

Contrary to his long-drawn campaign of calumny, threats to life and series of blackmail attempts against our Chairman, Mr. Joseph was charged to court by the Police for false information on Charge Number CR/216/16 before the FCT High Court, Abuja after forensic evidence showed that a Board Resolution bearing his signature which he claimed to have been forged was actually his.

Interestingly, Mr. Joseph had never met with our Chairman, Leo Stan Ekeh nor transacted any business with Zinox Telecoms or Zinox Technologies Ltd.  Our Chairman has also never met him in person or even spoken with him on the phone. If Joseph has any evidence of such meeting let him make it public. Mr. Joseph is only bent on spreading falsehood and spurious allegations in a bid to blackmail our Chairman to call him for negotiations to stop the blackmail.

The truth is that the complaint arose from a business transaction between Citadel Oracle Concept Limited (Mr. Joseph’s company) their appointed staff/representatives, (Princess Kama and Chief Igbokwe), when they won a contract for the supply of HP laptops to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). Having no funds to execute the contract, his appointed staff/agents approached one of our sister companies, Technology Distributions (an authorized HP distributor and the biggest ICT distributor in Sub-Saharan Africa) to supply them the laptops on credit pending payment by FIRS.

In view of previous bad experience and in order to avoid exposing the business to bad loans, it is our normal business practice that if a client is taking products on credit for onward contractual supply to a customer, staff of Technology Distributions would have to be signatories to an account opened for the purpose of disbursement of funds as regards the contract. This is the only security for the laptops supplied on credit. 

This was how our staff, Mr. Chris Eze Ozims and Mrs. Shade Oyebode became signatories to the account, but nowhere did they represent that they were directors of Citadel Oracle Concept Ltd. If Mr. Joseph has evidence to the contrary let him produce it. Immediately the contract was executed and payment effected by the FIRS, Technology Distributions simply deducted the pre-agreed invoice sum of the laptops and had its staff resign as signatories to the said account. This was the same procedure/process applied to other customers who had similar contract with FIRS for the supply of similar HP laptops at same time.

It is interesting to note that problem only started when Mr. Joseph could not agree on the profit sharing formula with his appointed agent/representative, Princess Kama. It was then that he reported the case to the SFU for investigation. The question is: if he was paid the money he was asking for after the contract was executed and at various meeting in the chambers of Afe Babalola & Co., would he have now alleged fraud?

Mr. Joseph reported the case to EFCC and the Special Fraud Unit of the Police in Lagos and then, the Force Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters in Abuja and the matter eventually got to the office of the former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase. Subsequently, a detailed investigation was conducted into the matter.

Since the crux of the matter was the denial by the complainant (Mr. Joseph) of not signing the Board Resolution to the account with which the FIRS remitted payment for the supplied HP laptops, the Police sent the documents for forensic analysis to determine its veracity. The evidence proved that the documents were actually signed by him.

In the light of this, the Police discovered that the issue was indeed a civil case between Mr. Joseph and his representatives, Princess Kama and Chief Onny Igbokwe who obtained the HP products from Technology Distributions on credit. The disagreement between the trio led to Mr. Joseph petitioning the Police that his signature was forged to execute the contract.

Based on the discovery that the said documents were not forged and the computers were deliver to FIRS, the Police charged Mr. Joseph to court with Charge Number CR/216/16 before the FCT High Court, Abuja. This case is still pending against him. Interestingly, in the series of publications he has continued to sponsor against the Chairman, Mr. Joseph has never mentioned why he was charged to court by the Police i.e. that the forensic report showed that he signed the documents he is denying.

The Police report also absolved our staff – Chris Eze Ozims, Folashade Oyebode and Charles Adigwe of any complicity in the matter as money withdrawn by TD was legitimate proceeds of HP laptops supplied to Citadel Oracle Concept through the company representatives for onward transmission to FIRS and the FIRS acknowledged receipt of the laptops.

Recognizing that the game was up, Mr. Joseph petitioned the office of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo SAN who did not know character, that our company Technology Distributions, Chief Igbokwe and the FIRS were in collusion to defraud the Federal Government of over N200m, alleging that the HP laptops were never supplied. The Vice President duly forwarded the petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for investigation.

We are aware the Commission had carried out a detailed investigation and in the process, conducted searches at the FIRS office, confirmed for the third time that the laptops were indeed supplied and receipted by the FIRS and their serial numbers noted.

It is worth reiterating here that the aim of Mr. Joseph is to tarnish the image of our Chairman to extort money as he has repeatedly boasted of having dealt in like manner with bigger public figures.

We have refrained from going public with this matter because the facts are subjudice based on a pending civil case at the Lagos State High Court with suit number LD/4335/14 and the Criminal Proceeding with Charge Sheet Number CR/216/16 before the FCT High Court, Abuja.

Again, we are waiting for the EFCC to apply the machinery of the law in bringing Mr. Joseph to justice based on the false petition to the office of the Vice President, just as the Police did by charging him to court on false and/or misleading information.

*Contributed by Gideon O. Ayogu, Head, Corporate Communications, Zinox Technologies Ltd.

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