CHARLES UGWU BLOCKADES PROSHARE NIGERIA WEBSITE

Charles Ugwuh, son of the immediate past Minister of Commerce and Industry, Eng. Charles Ugwuh, is at the centre of a controversy over the illegal blockade of Proshare Nigeria website, a popular investment focused website. According to owners of the website, Ugwuh shut down the site so as to blackmail Proshare.

In a release made available to FORTUNE&CLASS, Proshareng explains that on Friday, November 7th 2008, Charles Ugwuh of ContentOmni made good his threat to shut down the website of the company in an attempt to blackmail it to pay for spurious bills.

Ugwuh manages the Information Technology arm of Proshare through his ContentOmni IT company. He had informed the management of Proshareng that the site would be hosted on a dedicated server for which payment was made to January 2009. This, according to Proshareng management, was backed up with a full year maintenance agreement, equally paid for.

The revelation that Ugwuh had, in fact, breached the specific order to host the site on a dedicated server was made when, according to the Proshareng statement, it discovered, sometime in the first quarter of 2008 that Google had flagged the blog website as ‘possibly harmful’ to users.

“This was brought to his attention with nothing done. We realized the need to take better care and full control of issues related to the site as we were responsible for the site and requested that a 3rd party investigate the cause. We discovered that the problem resides on ContentOmni server for which we had no control over. This led to the discovery that we were indeed not operating on a dedicated server as contracted; and was sharing the platform with his other clients.” Proshareng explains.

Highlighting the reason for the need to have a dedicated server, Proshareng said:

“The agreement states that we shall be able to deliver 50,000 newsletters per 60 minutes amongst other service qualities desired by us. This unfortunately was never the case because of the deceit and non-conformity with the contractual obligation as agreed with us. To deliver this service, the company has had to operate shifts in a 24 hour cycle to meet newsletter demands.

Commenting on the challenging relationship Prosahreng had had to contend with Ugwuh because he held the sensitive information and access to its site, Proshare observed:

“The ContentOmni office in Ikeja was shut down early this year, barely two months after we had commissioned the firm and we have had serious challenges locating him or reaching him on phone when we had service issues which was a daily affair, for which our maintenance agreement covered.

“Most importantly, we needed ContentOmni to complete outstanding work from Proshare 2.0 which remained outstanding till date. A culture of service failures, non-observance of delivery timelines; desperation for money and disregard for client preferences, all well documented in formal correspondences showed no sign of abating.

“As the market entered the bearish state in May/June we feared for our ability to respond to the anticipated need for ‘another type’ of market information during the increasingly obvious market downturn, and requested that the website be handed over for us to take full responsibility for.

“Several entreaties from him for understanding of pressing challenges were made. On one of such visits, we made available additional funds to assist.

“Again, nothing happened and when ten (10) months after, sometime in September 2008 we asked again that he simply hands over the site and refund our money when able, he pleaded with us that we would have the site ready in October 2008.

“During the period of waiting, we requested for but did not receive information on the look and feel, functionality changes, logic for uploading and information on what customers should do and know about the new site. We still do not have that information.

“He rather sprung on us the need to move us to a ‘better’ dedicated server on a day when we were due to load a clients advert and while the website was acting up. It was literally a ‘gun to the head’ moment. We then realized that given the ‘catch 22’ situation we found ourselves, the only reasonable thing to do was to go ahead with it but insist that payment will be made by us directly to the web host, especially given our most recent experiences with him on matters relating to integrity.

“We recall that we have a subsisting contract till January 2009 and reckon that we could validate all works completed by the firm to achieve a smooth handover.

“ContentOmni migrated the platform to a test version of Proshare 3.0 in October 2008. The transition was anything but smooth or professional. Clients, advertisers, subscribers and staff members found it challenging to buy into the site and we thus demanded for a meeting/presentation from the firm. This he said he could not create time to do as ‘anyone should be able to apply themselves to the information there if serious’.

“Ugwuh’s disparaging remarks about users’ level of IT literacy would be considered by some as unusual but his formal response to our request to provide FULL DISCLOSURE of all third parties to which he had allegedly contracted on our behalf was anything, but sincere or professional.

“ContentOmni, he said, cannot and considers it unprofessional to disclose the identity of the third parties with whom he had contracted on our behalf nor can they disclose the source codes relating to our site (though initiated and paid for by us) if we want to take over the site and move it from them.

“We responded by demanding for a meeting as we became convinced of ContentOmni’s resolves to use any means available to them to keep us from being independent of them. When we insisted that we wanted a complete control of third party obligations and direct relationship with service providers supporting our operations as part of the transition, he threatened to shut us down unless full payment was received in a matter of days for spurious bills which included previous work done and paid for, and cost of transferring the website from one server to another.

Knowing our desire and passion to always serve the people, especially at this critical time of financial turbulence; Charles Ugwuh went ahead to block the website by placing a suspended service notice with the view to embarrassing the company and bring the brand into disrepute for no just cause. The notice was placed by ContentOmni and not the web host as anyone with knowledge of such services would know that no credible business will behave in such a reckless manner over disputed bills.

He had hoped that our zeal for service would compel us to succumb to such lawless act of intimidation and blackmail. WE REFUSE! If he is not responsible for the shut down, can he allow us pay direct to those who are, so we can hold them to a higher standard of decorum and service regard.

“This singular action of Ugwuh was subsequent to a commissioned project to deliver on the ideas put forward by us on the anticipated market requirements for investors in the Nigerian Capital Market; known as Proshare 3.0 – a customer centric platform which would remain free for all users. The completed site was due for launch in January 2008, having paid for same in November 2007.” Proshare recounts

“Charles Ugwuh, a son of a former minister, touts and believes that he is privileged enough to ignore the consequences of the shutdown by taking the law into his own hands. Sadly, this will be another chapter in the list of incidents we have had to grapple with this year in what many believe is a deliberate attempt by certain faceless persons/institutions to stifle the service and muzzle our voice in the market. It is not lost on us that the last incident we had to issue a disclaimer on related to the possible hijacking of our mails to which we used the website to immediately quell. More tragic is the fact that ContentOmni, referred to in the said broadcast as looking into the remote causes of such has allowed itself to be a willing tool to shut down our capabilities to defend ourselves.”

“This makes it such a compelling reason, not to allow such a blackmail to stand.” Proshareng affirms.

Advertisements

One Response

  1. Great post. I will read your posts frequently. Added you to the RSS reader.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: