Obaigbena has just opened a can of worms and the Nigerian media is not looking good
Nduka Obaigbena, the Chairman and Editor-in Chief of Thisday newspaper has just sent a letter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in order to stop further victimization. In an excerpt from the letter, he wrote that “At the end of the day, we were victims of a horrendous terrorist attack and should not be victimized any further as the terrorists will be celebrating what we are now being put through.”
Obaigbena, who is also the president of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) has had been invited by the EFCC for questioning in the past year. However, he was released on bail and has since experienced opposition from some other newspaper houses.
In his letter to the EFCC, he highlighted some points that may attribute to probing other media houses and agencies.
How NPAN’s compensation was paid
N120 million was allotted to NPAN as compensation for its 12 members. However, according to Obaigbena, he was called by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to come and pick the money up in cash. He wrote “after I had refused to pick up such a huge amount in cash, we agreed in good faith they credit the account of General Hydrocarbons Ltd, who, upon legal advice, were acting in line with industry practice where most payments are received through agencies, but in this instance, at no cost. General Hydrocarbons Ltd did receive the payments on behalf of NPAN and delivered same to NPAN.”
In what might be a response to the Newspaper houses and their proprietors who had negated the claim that money was received by them, Obaigbena said – “Once payment of the full N120,000,000 was received, we realized that we had 13 newspapers claiming instead of 12 and bank drafts were then issued as follows: 1. ThisDay Newspapers / N9,000,000; 2. Media Trust Newspapers/ N9,000,000; 3.Vanguard / N9,000,000 ; 4. Leadership Newspapers /N9,000,000; 5. The Nation Newspapers (Vintage Press) N9,000,000; 6. Business Day / N9, 000,000; 7. The Sun Newspapers/ N9,000,000; 8. Blueprint Newspapers / N9,000,000; Daily Independent / N9,000,000; 10. Peoples Daily / N9,000,000 ( with secretariat);11. Tribune Newspapers / N9,000,000 ( with secretariat); 12. Guardian Newspapers / N9,000,000 ( with secretariat) ; 13. New Telegraph / N9,000,000 ( with secretariat) and NPAN /N3,000,000. TOTAL: 120,000,000.00 as received from the ONSA (Not a penny less).”
The involvement of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE)
When Nduka Obaigbena’s involvement with the NSA was first discovered, Garba Deen Mohammad, the president of the NGE released a communique calling for a probe on the people involved.
“The Guild calls for thorough investigation into the circumstances leading to the involvement of some media executives in the payments from the office of the former National Security Adviser in the interest of fairness and justice.”
However, the NGE may not be so innocent after all. In Nduka Obaigbena’s letter, he insinuated that the NGE received N50 million from the office of the NSA in cash. He noted that “even when he [an official from ONSA] suggested that The Nigerian Guild of Editors – NGE -(who are now calling for a probe) was paid N50,000,000 cash by the ONSA when President Jonathan donated to the building of the NGE secretariat, I still refused to collect cash.”
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