…Insists He was Acquitted, Damages Paid over Fraud Allegation, Dismissal
The Chairman, Cross River State Universal Basic Education (CR-SUBEB), Dr Stephen Odey, has described as ‘cheap blackmail’ an allegation that he was dismissed from the services of Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC), now Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and that with the dismissal, he was not qualified to vie for the Cross River North senatorial seat in the forthcoming by-election.”
Recall that a report published by an online news medium had said Odey, while working with JOMALIC, defrauded one Chief Akpan Williams in 2006 through a forged document and that he was later sacked from the company.
But the SUBUB Boss, in a chat with Journalists, said the allegation was a failed attempt at rubbishing his hard earned reputation and frustrating his political ambition, noting: “the allegation is a cheap blackmail which has already failed.
“It is the handwork of individuals and some of my political opponents who are bent on dragging my good name and image to the mud because of my resolve to vie for the Cross River north senatorial seat in the forthcoming by-election.”
Odey, who is aspiring under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), explained further that more than a decade ago, certain cabal in his former place of work, (JOMALIC), alleged that he defrauded one Chief Williams Akpan Essien of the sum of N4.7m.
According to him, few days later, he was queried by the management of JOMALIC, subsequently suspended and dismissed unjustly even when he denied culpability.
He said JOMALIC management later dragged him to a Calabar Magistrate court where he was tried, and that the court presided over by Chief Magistrate A.O.A Oyebueke (Mrs) discharged and acquitted him.
A certified true copy of the court ruling, in Suit No.MC/28C/2007 between Commissioner of Police vs Stephen Odey, dated February 2, 2007, sighted by our reporter, may have confirmed Dr Odey’s postulation.
In the ruling delivered by Justice A Onyebueke, a Chief Magistrate grade one, the court declared that a prema facie case was not established against Dr Odey as the complainant in the matter, Chief Akpan, who had earlier written to the Inspector General of Police to withdraw the matter, did not make appearance in court.
‘The evidence of PW1, the IPO in this matter, is taken as hearsay evidence which has not created any prime facie case for the accused person to answer.
“After hearing Sam Eboh Esq for the accused persons and Udo Akpan Esq for the prosecution, PW1(IPO) testified on oath and defense counsel made his address. It is hereby ordered that the accused has no case to answer in this matter and the case is hereby dismissed and the accused discharged,” Justice Onyebueke had ruled.
The SUBEB Boss said that despite the fact that he was discharged and acquitted, JOMALIC refused to reinstate him, and added “My lawyers wrote to the agency for my reinstatement but they refused.
“Due to the frustration they forced me into at that time, we headed to the Federal High Court to seek redress, and the court, presided over by Hon. Justice A. F. Ademola, gave me a fair judgement on October 31, 2008, and ordered JOMALIC to pay me all my entitlements for unlawful dismissal”
Odey said the Federal High Court ruling included payment of all his emolument, rights, privileges, entitlement and promotion which accrued to him during the period of the illegal dismissal from service, and that the court also stated clearly that his employment was still subsisting, continuous and regulated by statue.
He explained that the court even described his dismissal as “illegal, in bad faith and done in breach of my constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing and rules of natural justice, and declared the dismissal null and void.”
Odey expressed surprise that after being absolved of criminal liability, discharged and acquitted by both the Magistrate and the Federal High Courts more than a decade ago and damages paid to him by his detractors, anyone could bring up such a matter and labeled him a criminal, adding “I am shocked that someone could publish a malicious report of this nature.”