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I was Detained for Standing As A Grantor for Chioma After She Jumped Bail – Dozie Ikedife

I was Detained for Standing As A Grantor for Chioma After She Jumped Bail – Dozie Ikedife

Dozie Ikedife Jr., the man who stood as guarantor for Chioma Okoli at the Force Headquarters, has come out to say she absconded after he secured her bail on September 2023.

Ikedife, a politician from Anambra State, was on AIT’s Moneyline with Nancy on March 20 to speak on the lingering consumer-producer conflict between Okoli and Erisco Foods.

Okoli had bought Nagiko Tomato Mix, a product of Erisco Foods, and took to her Facebook account to describe her experience after taking the product.

She said “Sugar is just too much” in the product. To a comment under that post, she replied that the product was killing. Several accounts engaged with the post.

In reaction, the company issued a statement. Not done, the company petitioned the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and got Okoli arrested in Lagos State, from where she was flown to Abuja. The police have filed a case against her under the Cybercrime Act.

Ikedife has now come out to say he was the one who signed Okoli’s administrative bail. He also said he had been in trouble since then because Chioma had refused to show up at the police station.

During the interview, Ikedife said:

“I was involved to an extent. When this happened initially, I was contacted by an aunty of Chioma from Nnewi… I am from Nnewi, a community leader in Nnewi. When she contacted me, she said Chioma was in trouble with the police and that I should help, and I agreed to intercede. So, I got the necessary numbers and the facts behind it. I called Erisco severally. Eventually, he called me back.

I said I am Dozie Ikedife Jr. and I am interested in resolving this matter. He was quite gracious. He asked me to meet him at the Force Headquarters by 1 pm on that day. I think it was September 26th.

When I got to the Force Headquarters to intercede on behalf of Chioma, there was a lawyer in Abuja here from Afam Ozigwe’s chamber, who also came to intercede on behalf of Chioma. So, we went to the office of the man in charge of the monitoring unit. In that office, the whole party gathered.

Erisco was there, Chioma was there, the husband (Chioma’s husband) was there. And the question was, Chioma, this product that you bought, where is it? She said she had discarded the product. The next question was this product that you bought, where did you buy it so that the police could intervene in case there was some kind of counterfeit going on? And she said she didn’t know where she bought it; she said she had forgotten where she bought it. She really could not help the police.

But my job there was to bring peace. So I asked Erisco and everybody please, let’s take this matter home and resolve it at home. Chioma was on their knees apologising to their husband; they were quite apologetic. My anger was we were not here to find out how wrong Chioma was, but let us be allowed to take this matter home.

So, the deputy commissioner of police who was in charge agreed that we should find means to resolve this matter at home. Chioma offered to write an apology letter.

Nancy Nnaji, the anchor, asked to clarify if it was Chioma who offered to write the letter or if she was forced to, but the guarantor maintained that the consumer offered to write an apology letter.

“I was there for her. Chioma offered to write an apology letter.

“So she was not forced?” The anchor asked again, “Well she offered to write an apology letter, and everybody agreed that she should write an apology letter. I also offered to write an apology letter to Erisco, so that we could take the matter home and resolve it. So, the deputy commissioner of police asked us to go to another office; the office of a DSP (deputy superintendent of police) or so like that. In the office, Chioma was guided by her lawyer to write an apology letter. I also wrote an apology letter to Erisco there in the police station because I understood what was going on and we needed to resolve the matter at an off-place.

Erisco accepted Chiom’a’s apology letter and asked Chioma’s husband to witness the apology letter. So, he witnessed the apology letter. And Erisco said Dozie, you have to witness the apology letter also. So, I also witnessed the apology letter. So, this matter was resolved, maybe 98 percent. The condition was that Chioma, you wrote an apology letter, posted a copy of the apology letter on your Facebook wall, and deleted the bad statement that you made. The statement where she said the Erisco product was killing people. So we agreed. I applied for Chioma’s bail. So, the next thing we got home, she published the apology letter and the matter would have been ended.

We agreed with the police that we would come after seven days to tell the police how we resolved the matter. The other resolution was the apology letter being posted on her Facebook wall and deleting the comment that she made, the comment on the product killing people. It’s not about the review, whether it had salt or it had sugar. That’s neither here nor there. It’s the comment of the product killing people.

Nnaji further asked to know what specifically was the premise of the company’s anger, and Ikedife said:

 

“And where she also made another comment that they were going to destroy the company. She said that this company had been destroyed or something like that. To that extent, I am not quoting her write. But my position was ‘Let’s resolve this matter and let’s give peace a chance’.

We agreed to come back to the police after seven days to tell the police how we resolved the matter, and Chioma absconded. Seven days later, I was not able to reach Chioma by phone. I was not able to reach the husband on the phone. When you are the bail guarantor of anybody, the person you took on bail has a responsibility. Whenever the police invite her, she comes. And then when she’s not able to come, the police will hold me accountable, responsible. It’s my job to provide her.

“So, seven days after, we went to the police. I called everybody in Chioma’s family to advise her to come. She didn’t come. The aunty that called me said, oh Dozie you know Chioma is stubborn. I have been telling her to come, and she doesn’t want to come. I spoke with the husband one time after we left the police the next day. I had called the husband about 50 times. So, he called me back and I said, look, I don’t know you from Adam. I only came to help. I am calling and you are not answering my calls, that’s quite disrespectful. He said he would get Chioma to do what we agreed on. That was the last time I heard from the husband.

After we left the police, I have not heard from Chioma. Maybe about six weeks later, I was not able to bring Chioma back to the police. One time, the police called me and they arrested me because I wasn’t able to bring Chioma back to the police. I was detained by the police because as a bail guarantor for Chioma, I must bring her to the police when she’s needed.

From that September till today, she has not honoured the invitations by the police. It’s a mess, and I hate that I got myself involved in this.

In response to the anchor’s observation that the media had reported Chioma’s rearrest, Ikedife said: “That may have happened. I am not aware of that. But to the extent of my involvement, the police are still holding me responsible for providing Chioma up till now. And my job is to provide for her and withdraw myself from the matter. I was detained for some hours, and Barrister Mike Mbanefo signed my bail. So, right now, I am on bail because of Chioma. And this is a matter that we could have resolved, and I am still very hopeful that we can still amicably resolve this matter

 

The first lawyer that came from Afam Ozigwe’s chamber helped Chioma to construct the apology letter. There is another lawyer (Inibehe Effiong), I got his contact and I contacted him. I appealed to him that I was in trouble because I took your client on bail. All I need is for your client to come. If Chioma wants to fight Erisco, that’s fine. Whatever she wants to do, that’s fine. I just want to get out of this matter.

I didn’t know Erisco from Adam. I never heard of Erisco, the product or anything like that. The first time I knew about Erisco was when Chioma’s aunty gave me his number to call.”

Even though the case is now before the court, Ikedife thought that it could be resolved peacefully by the parties out of court.

FIJ contacted Effiong Inibehe, Chioma’s legal representative, to react to the interview. The lawyer said it was untrue that Chioma absconded after her release.

“He has issued public statements supporting Erisco. He was one of those who forced Chioma to write the so-called letter of apology under duress, and that was because of where his loyalty lies. Chioma has no personal relationship with Ikedife,” Inibehe told FIJ on Friday.

“We are not aware whether he was detained or not. Chioma never jumped bail. So, I don’t understand what he meant by he hadn’t set eyes on her. The public should disregard his tissue of lies. We resolved to address him at the appropriate forum. His interest in this matter is not in support of Chioma any longer. If he continues to lie around, we may be forced to make certain disclosures about who truly he is.”

A news blog  published an article attributed to Ikedife on March 18. The article was to “reaffirm” his solidarity with Eric Umeofia, the owner of Erisco Foods.

 

“On this day, my birthday, I find a unique joy in reaching out to express my profound appreciation for your resilience and integrity in the face of adversity, and to reaffirm my solidarity with you during your business ordeal,” the article read in part.

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