Four workers of former Minister of State for Education, Kenneth Gbagi, who were reportedly made to strip naked in his hotel, have demanded a public apology and N1billion compensation.
The victims worked for Gbagi at his Signatious Hotel, Warri, Delta State.
It was reported that the staff were arrested and paraded half naked in one of the offices in the hotel following allegations that they stole some money belonging to the management of Signatious Hotel.
Signatious Hotel belongs to the controversial politician and former minister who is nursing a governorship ambition in Delta state in 2023.
The victims through their team of lawyers headed by Kunle Edun of Tri-Lex Partners law firm, in a letter dated 23rd day of September, 2020, gave Gbagi five-day ultimatum to tender a public apology to them and make a compensation of N1 billion for the damages they suffered.
The letter reads:
September 23, 2020
Chief (Barr.) Kenneth Gbagi
Signatious Hotel & Suites Ltd
TRIAL BY ORDEAL, TORTURE, STRIPPING NAKED AND BESTIAL CONDUCT OF SIGNATIOUS HOTEL AND YOURSELF IN AN ORGANIZED SHOW OF SHAME AND ANIMALISM.
NOTICE OF INTENTION TO SEEK FULL LEGAL REDRESS.
We have been briefed and our services retained by (1) Mr. Victor Ephraim (2) Gloria Oguzie (3) Mrs. Precious Achibong (4) Roselyn Okiemute Diaghwarhe (hereinafter collectively referred to as “our clients”) and on whose firm behest we write you this letter, in your personal capacity and as the Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of Signatious Hotels & Suites Limited (a company owned by you).
Information from our clients (with very compelling evidence) confirms that until very recently they were staff of Signatious Hotels & Suites Limited, and assigned various responsibilities. It is public knowledge that you were a former Minister of State for Education and former Chairman of the Nigerian Legal Aid Council. You were called to the bar in the year 2003; therefore you will easily appreciate the facts hereunder.
Our clients state as follows:
- That on the 30th of August, 2020 while in the ordinary course of their duties at Signatious Hotel welcomed a guest into the Hotel. The guest requested for a room and was given Room 301 which rate was N25, 000. 00 (Twenty Five Thousand Naira) per night. The guest did not have his ATM Card with him and requested to do a transfer to the accounts of one of our clients (Victor Ephraim). The guest stayed for four nights and paid for each day he stayed. The Hotel acknowledged receipt of the four nights that he stayed.
- That after the guest’s stay, he gave our clients the sum of N105, 000.00 (One Hundred and Five Thousand Naira) as tips for the good time that he had at the hotel. This again, is not unusual in the hospitality business.
- That the Hotel did not lose any money neither was any alleged to have been stolen.
- That when you got wind of what happened (most likely you refused to believe that there are still honest Nigerians) you summoned our clients to your office immediately and subjected them to tortuous interrogations (in the presence of your armed mobile policemen) where you demanded that all the tips given to our clients must be returned to you. You told our clients menacingly that they are not entitled to tips, as all tips belong to you. As a matter of fact, you categorically stated that they were not supposed to have monies in their accounts as long as they were working for you. This is not surprising, because according to our clients, you hardly paid staff salaries regularly and at times the staff worked without pay for months.
- That on Thursday, the 17th of September, 2020 you forcibly took our clients to the Hotel warehouse and later to your office (also at the Hotel’s Restaurant) in the presence and active assistance of the armed mobile policemen (paid by tax payers) and at gunpoint ordered our clients to pull off their clothes. Our clients pleaded profusely for your mercy but you showed them none. One of our clients, Mrs. Precious Achibong, knelt down and cried for your mercy because she is a married woman (a fact which you are aware of) and no one except her husband was supposed to see her nakedness but the milk of mercy never came from you. With the threatening presence of the armed policemen who willingly did your bidding, you directed your son of 15 years old (a minor) Master Egba Gbagi, to film and take photos of our clients’ nakedness.
- That you were still not done. You summoned the other staff of the hotel to see the nakedness of our clients. They were shocked at what you and your son were doing but still had to look at the shameful sight because they were afraid of you. They also joined in taking snapshots. You took every pride and dignity that our clients had away from them and according to you, that is the way thieves should be treated. You became the Accuser, the Judge and Executioner.
- That the case of the married woman is even more pathetic. She was assigned to the Food and Beverage Department. You alleged that there was a shortage of N1, 000.00 (One Thousand Naira) in her sales for the 18th of September, 2020 and demanded that she returned the money, notwithstanding the fact that she was not the staff directly responsible. But as the Supervisor she promised to return the N1, 000.00.
- That at gunpoint, you forcibly collected their ATM cards and used the Hotel’s Point On Sale (POS) device to transfer all the monies in our clients’ bank accounts. You withdrew the sum of N111, 000.00(One Hundred and Eleven Thousand Naira) from the account of Victor Ephraim on Friday, the 18th of September, 2020. Same time also you unlawfully withdrew the sum of N176, 500.00 (One Hundred and Seventy Six Thousand Five Hundred Naira) from the account of Gloria Oguzie. You withdrew the sum of N5, 000.00 (Five Thousand Naira) from Okiemute Roseline Diaghwarhe which you claimed was what she “stole” from you. Precious Achibong had already under duress, refunded the sum of N2, 000.00 even though the alleged shortage from her daily sale was N1,000.00 but you still subjected her to this infamous show of bestiality.
- That when you noticed that the news of your infamous and bestial conducts had filtered out to the public and to stave off bad publicity, you quickly called the DPO of the Ebrumede Police Station, Uvwie Local Government to send officers to your hotel to arrest some “thieves”.The Policemen came and arrested our clients, without any complaint first being made by you or any member of your staff to the Police. Our clients, at your instance were detained for 4 (four) days at the Ebrumede Police Station. Our clients were eventually arraigned in court on frivolous charges of stealing the same actual amounts that you unlawfully and at gun point withdrew from their accounts. This was not smart at all.
- That you personally and also instructed your said son, Master Egba Gbagi to post the nude pictures of our clients on the Hotel’s staff WhatsApp group and in the general social media. By this your authorized act, the nude pictures of our clients went viral and are now on facebook, YouTube and other social media outlets. The media is now agog with it.
- That inspite of the gory incidents where you, your son and the armed mobile policemen attached to you were the principal conniving characters that orchestrated same, you are still threatening our clients and members of their family that you will use your influence and position to deal with them if they dare seek any legal redress. Our clients take these threats seriously and shall inform the law enforcement agencies immediately. Our clients have also seen the money-motivated and hurried Press Release made by Signatious Hotel purporting to deny what transpired and ascribing same to be the machinations of your alleged political detractors whom you claim are bent on scuttling your gubernatorial ambition in Delta State. Certainly no one believes these clichés again. They are the usual tales told by politicians to attempt to hide the truth. The wicked runneth when no one pursueth…Proverbs 28.1.
- Information confirmed that the Operations Manager, the Safety Manager and some other senior and junior staff of the Hotel have resigned as a result of your acts complained of and are willing to give us more information.
OUR CLIENTS’ DEMANDS
We have the instructions of our clients to make the following demands on you and HEREBY NOTIFY ACCORDINGLY, to wit:
- A formal public apology for the trial by ordeal, calamitous embarrassment, disgrace and public ridicule that you subjected our clients to. The apology must be on a full page and to be published in the Vanguard Newspaper and the Punch Newspaper.
- An immediate retraction of all the videos and pictures of the nudity of our clients shared by you and your son on the social media.
iii. Report yourself to the nearest Police Station for contravening the provisions of Sections 26(1) & 32(1) of the Child Rights Act, 2003, for involving and procuring a child in the commission of an offence and sexually exploiting a child in a manner not allowed by the Child Rights Act.
- Immediate return of all the items/monies unlawfully withdrawn and forcibly taken from their accounts including Samsung Phone A10, black Itel phone, ox-blood coloured hand bag containing perfume, keys, pair of sandals, yellow shirt, food flask, cash of N2,500, wallet (which belonged to Roseline Okiemute Diaghwarhe). The phones of our other clients taken by you must be returned.
- The sum of N1, 000,000,000.00 (One Billion Naira) as modest damages and compensation for the unmitigated actions of yours.
Please, be further informed that should you fail/refuse to comply with our modest demands WITHIN FIVE (DAYS) UPON YOUR RECEIPT OF THIS LETTER, we have the full instructions of our clients to perfect their instructions and proceed as follows, without further reference to you:
- File Complaint to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee and the Nigerian Bar Association that your conduct is unbecoming of a lawyer.
- Lodge a formal complaint to the Inspector General of Police against you for the grave crimes you have committed.
III. Make a formal petition to the Senate of the National Assembly to intervene in this matter and withdraw all Honours bestowed on you by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
- Petition the Hoteliers Association of Nigeria to de-list your Signatious Hotel and any other Hotel business that you may be involved in.
- Petition the appropriate agencies involved in Child Care and file an action in court against you personally for child abuse and seek to put your child, Master Egba Gbagi into proper custody pursuant to the enabling provisions of the Child’s Rights Act, 2003.
- Petition the Embassies of the United States of America and the United Kingdom and put them on notice of the bestial acts complained above.
VII. Petition the National Human Rights Commission on your gross violations of the fundamental rights of our clients.
VIII. Enforce the fundamental rights of our clients and seek for remedies, including but not certainly limited to the payment of the sum of N1, 000,000,000.00 (One Billion Naira) as exemplary damages.
HALF A WORD IS ENOUGH FOR THE WISE.
Tri-Lex Partners LP
Olukunle Ogheneovo Edun Esq. LLM
Nyerhovwo Ohre Esq. Acti
Othadua Adueniforae Okpakpor Esq. LL.M
Alfred Ogunli Esq.
Austin Akanyo Esq.