Embattled Chairman of ThisDay newspapers and president of Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), NdukaObaigbena has claimed that his company and other media beneficiaries of the Boko Haram attack palliative didn’t know that the N670million compensation package was from arms purchase fund.
The publisher made the disclosure in a letter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the N670 million payments his company and the 12 other newspapers received from the office of the National Security Adviser, SamboDasuki in the wake of 2015 general election.
Obaigbena claimed in the letter that he had no way of knowing that the payments, which he said were approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan, were taken from the funds budgeted to buy arms for the military.
According to him, NPAN, which he also presides over, was not aware of the source of the funds, arguing that any suggestion that payments made to NPAN and his company “were for arms purchase is like calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it; incite the public against us and create panic amongst our members and stakeholders in such an important national institution as the media.”
Mr. Obaigbena insists that the payments were received from the office of the NSA “given that it was the ONSA that oversaw the crackdown on newspapers.”
His words: “We never participated in any arms purchase in any shape or form and only demanded compensation for a horrendous terrorist act against us. In the same way, the United Nations and others who may have received some compensation could not have known the line budget items for the funds being used for the reconstruction of the UN Abuja buildings.
“Even the Nigerian Guild of Editors, which may have received donations for their secretariat from the ONSA, could not have known which subhead it was paid from. We simply cannot know or be expected to speculate which line item the spending was made from by the ONSA.
“There is simply no nexus between payments made for compensation, to us victims of terrorism as well as to newspapers in compensation for an unprovoked attack on free speech, and any arms purchase budget,” the publisher said.
He said it was wrong for the public to accuse us of the offence committed by some public officials.
“We do not deserve further trauma because some official(s), outside of our control, may or may not have followed due process,” he said.
According toThisday publisher, all victims of terrorist attack deserve fair and just compensation.
“The fact that we have received some remedy should be reason to accelerate compensation for all victims of Boko Haram attacks across Nigeria however big or small,” he stressed.