Lebanese businessman seeks government’s protection over alleged rights violation
A LEBANESE citizen, Ahmad Medhi, is seeking Nigerian government’s protection over alleged abuse of his fundamental human rights by his fellow countryman, Francoise Chidiac. According to Medhi, who is married with four children (all born in Nigeria), lives and works in Abia and Enugu States, trouble started with his former boss when he left the employment of Chidiac.
Now Medhi is at the risk of being deported to Lebanon following conflicts with his erstwhile boss and business rival, Chidiac, who accused him of stealing his lotto business documents and using it to generate over 30 million dollars in Nigeria. Medhi, who was arrested based on a “red notice” from Interpol, however, argued that the attempt to deport him from Nigeria to Lebanon was instigated by “unfounded accusations” from Chidiac.
Medhi alleged that Chidiac was jealous of his success and progress in the lotto business and had confronted him several times and also petitioned the Nigeria Immigration Service, which according to him dismissed the petition. Medhi explained that his ordeal began when he established his own lotto business, the same venture Chidiac was also engaged in.
He explained that he was arrested from his base in Umuahia, Abia State and brought to Abuja on trumped-up allegations of stealing Chidiac’s lottery paper and money, two years after he stopped working for his company.
Following his arrest and detention for about 20 days in Abuja, Medhi developed “peptic ulcer with left nephrolithiasis” according to a medical report by the Nigeria Police Medical Services, signed by Dr. Iyiola Ogundimite. The report dated May 18, 2015, referred him to a nephrologist for expert management.
The Lebanese, who has worked with Chidiac in Enugu since 1998 when he came to Nigeria, in a petition by his lawyer, Martin Atojoko, to the Commissioner for the Control of Interpol notices, Lyon, France, explained that he stopped working for Chidiac in 2012 when he set up his own lotto business in Abia State.
According to Medhi, he was accused of stealing the lotto papers in 2014, two years after he stopped working with Chidiac who has Nigerian citizenship, noting that the Interpol red notice was based on the crime which was allegedly committed in Nigeria.
The petition reads: “Our client got wind of the reasons for his arrest from the investigating police officer who informed him of the red notice alert copied by the Nigeria Interpol department from Beirut, Lebanon referring to him as a criminally wanted person for offences of stealing lottery and lotto papers, and money, according to Article 638, 672/670,450/459 of the Lebanese Penal Code.
“Chidiac alleged that these offences were committed in Nigeria, why then was it not reported to the Nigeria Police for investigation, but rather the preference to report at Beirut, Lebanon where he can use his money to manipulate the justice and police system with a view of having our client extradited.” Medhi claimed that his passport was yet to be released by the Interpol Department in Nigeria, thereby limiting his personal liberty.
The lotto operator, therefore, urged the Commissioner for the Control of Interpol notices to direct the Interpol department of the Nigeria Police to release his passport which he needs to travel abroad for medical treatment.
Chiadic in his reaction stated that he involved Interpol because Medhi’s family members in Lebanon were threatening his life.
According to him, Medhi duped his company and also resigned from his company without handing over official documents.
“He left the company without handing over the company papers and he also duped us; I reported the matter to the Interpol in Lebanon because his family members were threatening to kill me,” Chidiac alleged.
When contacted, the Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojukwu stated that Medhi could be arrested anywhere, stressing that the NPF was only executing the red notice from Interpol. He said: “The NPF is a subscriber to Interpol protocol by which police formations cooperate, implement and execute notices.
The Lebanese can be arrested anywhere in the world.” Francois Chidiac told The Guardian that he has lived in Enugu state for 32 years with a pristine image without rancour and feels betrayed by Medhi’s attack on him. He narrated: “This guy worked with me for 14 years, I brought him to Nigeria. I treated him like my own son, I made him to marry, I opened business for him, he was living inside my house for 14 years.”
Chidiac said trouble started when Mehdi left unceremoniously without notice and after his return told his boss he wanted to start his own lotto business.