TheNEWS magazine (published by Independent Communications Network Limited), through its solicitors, is asking Shehu Sani, the senator representing Kaduna Central, to settle his N5million advert indebtedness to the media house since March 2018.
That newspaper came public "after exploring all avenues of making the senator honour his promise as a gentleman, a much acclaimed human rights activist, social critic and a highly respected national legislator".
The company said it first explored personal contacts to persuade Sani to pay, but he did not. Then TheNEWS wrote a letter, dated November 29, 2018, to Senate President Bukola Saraki to intervene, but nothing happened.
Therefore, Barrister Umudjoro, of Umudjoro & Co, (OWHE Chambers) wrote a letter to Senator Sani, dated February 7, 2019, entitled: 'YOUR INDEBTEDNESS TO INDEPENDENT COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK LTD, PUBLISHER OF TheNEWS MAGAZINE'.
The lawyer demanded as follows:
1. That you, in company of your S.A. media, Comrade Abubakar Ahmed, had a meeting with some of its officials at its premises, wherein it was agreed that its magazine known as TheNEWS magazine, should be deployed for a media coverage and publication of a supplement of your constituency projects.
2. That it was further agreed that the publication which is to be a 10-page pull-out should be published on credit, with payment agreed to be made within three months of publication at a cost of five hundred thousand naira (500,000.00) per page, making the cost of producing the 10-page pullout at Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) only.
3. That pursuant of this agreement, TheNEWS magazine published the 10-page pull-out of your constituency projects in the March 2018 edition of the magazine, showing extensively the several and different pictorials of your constituency projects in their different stages. In addition to the publication highlighting the constituency projects, the magazine published an extensive interview you granted to its editors which turned out to be very explosive, nationally and internationally. Need we say, you had full coverage as you had desired and wished for.
4. That unfortunately, eleven months down the line, you have neglected or refused to pay the debt of Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) accrued from the publication and all efforts made by our clients to persuade you to liquidate the debt, have yielded no fruit.
5. That it is our brief to recover the said sum of Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) with interest from you. We therefore by this letter demand the immediate payment of the aforementioned debt. In this light, we request you to deliver to our office a cheque for the said sum of Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) drawn in the name of our client.
TAKE NOTICE that we shall not hesitate to seek legal remedies in a court of competent jurisdiction if you refuse/neglect to accede to our client’s demand within two weeks of the receipt of this letter.
PAY UP and avoid the negative publicity usually associated with litigations of this nature.
Thanks in anticipation of prompt response.
BENJAMIN UMUDJORO ESQ
(PP OWHE CHAMBERS)”
That followed an earlier letter, written by TheNEWS on November 29, 2018 to Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, The Senate President, entitled 'Senator Shehu Sani’s N5M Indebtedness To TheNEWS'. The letter was signed by Ademola Adegbamigbe, the Editor.
According to Adegbamigbe, in October 2017, Independent Communications Network Limited (publishers of TheNEWS and PM NEWS) held a meeting with Senator Shehu Sani in its office on Acme Road, Ikeja, Lagos and agreed that the magazine should publish a supplement on Sani’sconstituency projects. His SA Media, Comrade Abubakar Ahmed, was part of the meeting.
TheNEWS published his achievements as a 10-page pull-out in its March 2018 edition. Senator Sani, as the medium wrote in its letter to Saraki, agreed with the organisation to pay N5million (five million naira only) at N500,000 (five hundred thousand naira) per page.
The Editor lamented: “We produced the edition fully on credit because we thought we were dealing with a gentleman. You will recall that the extensive interview we had with Senator Sani, which made waves in Nigeria then, was the cover of that edition. We did not pass the bill of the production of that interview to him.”
TheNEWS continued: “Mr. President since the publication of the edition, Senator Sani has been avoiding our organisation! Mr. Kunle Ajibade, our Executive Editor/Director, had a one-on-one with Senator Sani in Lagos at a point, pleading with him to pay up because we had bills to pay. Mr. Bayo Onanuga, our former MD and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine, also sent a message to him on the same issue. Sani promised to pay up the following week Insha Allah. But he has been diving and ducking. It is clear to us that this Senator does not want to make good his promise.
“We want you to use your good offices to intervene on our behalf. We have used our platform over the years to promote Shehu Sani’s cause. We thought we should let you know this before we go public on this man.
“We look forward to your quick intervention. Mr. President. Please accept the assurances of our regards.”