Award-winning writer and publisher of the Bayelsa-based Coastline News Network, Nengi Ilagha, seems to be fighting too many battles nowadays.
Ilagha, in a recent interview with our correspondent, gave the hint that he was embroiled in a personal battle on two fronts, especially with the Bayelsa State Government.
The author, who was an official speech writer for two governors of the state in the past, claimed that the government still owed him 77 months’ salaries and other entitlements.
He said that the state government had recently ordered him to vacate his official residence in Yenagoa, the state capital, while he was being detained for a different matter.
He noted, “The Bayelsa State Government asked me to leave my official quarters and it took me to court on that basis. I told the government that it had no right to kick me out of service because I was suspended by the previous administration.
“The state government owes me 77 months’ salaries. It has not paid me. They amount to about N25.4m. And it has not recalled me from suspension. The government has not even retired me. So how can it ask me to quit my official residence?”
Although the court eventually ruled in his favour, ordering the government to reinstate him and pay his due salaries, Ilagha swore to ensure that the government obey the order by going to court.
A few years ago, the writer left Nigeria for the United Kingdom on self-exile. Asked why he left in a hurry, he said, “I had to go on self-exile, in the first place, because I was abducted by six soldiers who hand-cuffed me and were taking me out of town to nowhere. But for divine intervention, the story would have been very different now.
“When I was able to get back to my family, I realised that it was no longer safe for me to stay in the country. Members of my family advised that I should leave town. The important thing for me, at the time, was that I should be safe somewhere to continue to express myself without molestation.”
While he was in the UK, he published a book in 2009, titled ‘Epistle to Maduabebe’. Unfortunately the person to whom the book was addressed, who happened to be the traditional ruler of his hometown in Bayela State, took offence with certain sections of the book and sued him for libel.