Chairman of ThisDay newspapers and president of Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) Nduka Obaigbena has written to EFCC on allegations he received part of the controversial arms deal money. In a letter yesterday, Obaigbena said his company and NPAN didn’t know that the N670million compensation they got from the office of the National Security Adviser were from arms purchase fund. Obaigbena disclosed this in his reaction to EFCC on the payments his company and the 12 other newspapers received from the NSA in 2015. In a letter sent to EFCC, Obaigbena said;
“When the ONSA (Office of the National Security Adviser) said that they had approval to pay us, but would rather not set a precedent by paying THISDAY directly, we nominated a member company of the THISDAY Newspapers Group, called General Hydrocarbons Ltd., to receive the payments on behalf of the group of companies, given that the assets of General Hydrocarbons Ltd – mainly generators – were also destroyed in the bombings;
“We did ask our insurance consortium to pay compensation but they said we were not covered for war and or terrorism risk. Until that time, we never knew we needed war or terrorism insurance in Nigeria as the government had not officially declared war. With the power of hindsight, we now know better.
“We simply used the compensation funds to defray some 30 per cent of the N1.7 billion we already paid to 3rd party printers for services in lieu of the Abuja press, while we went to our banks for refinancing printing presses, computer-to-plate and other facilities.”
“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’
We do not deserve further trauma because some official(s), outside of our control, may or may not have followed due process. All victims of terrorist attack deserve a 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 said.