Nduka Obaigbena, Editor-in-chief and chairman of THISDAY, says the N550 million payments he received from Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser (NSA), were compensation for the Boko Haram attack on the Abuja office of the newspaper on April 26, 2012.
He also said the additional N130 million was compensation for 12 newspapers whose circulation was disrupted in 2014 by soldiers who said they were acting on intelligence that Boko Haram wanted to transport explosive materials under the guise of media vehicles.
In a letter dated December 9, 2015 and sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday, Obaigbena promised to honour the commission’s invitation after returning from the US.
Obaigbena said he never received any “suspicious” payment from the NSA.
The full text of the letter
The Executive Chairman,
The Economic & Financial Crimes C omission, 5, Fomella Street, Wuse 11,
Attention: OLAOLU ADEGBITE, MFR.
RE: LETTER OF INVITATION.
Please refer to your letter of invitation dated 8th November 2015, which was received in our Abuja Office on the 8th of December 2015.
I am currently in the United States of America on my way back to Nigeria to honour your invitation, but I feel it necessary to make the following statements prior to my arrival in Nigeria:
1. We have never received any suspicious funds from the Office of the National Security Adviser. ALL funds received from the Office of the National Security Adviser were PAYMENTS for COMPENSATION to MITIGATE the following:
1.1. N150,000,000 + N150,000,000 and N250,000,000 respectively received in August, November and February 2014 as compensation to mitigate the dastardly Boko Haram twin bombings of the THISDAY NEWSPAPERS offices in Abuja and Kaduna on Thursday April 26, 2012, during which 4 innocent Nigerian lives were lost, our buildings destroyed and we lost full colour Goss printing towers and three (3) pre-press Computer-To-Plate and anxiliary equipments and other (in)valuable property valued at over N2.5 BILLION. This is aside from daily costs to pay 3rd party printers of over N1 Billion having lost our printing facility to terrorist due to inadequate protection by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The bombing of THISDAY offices followed the Abuja United Nations Building bombing for which the Federal Government has so far spent N3 Billion for reconstruction and much more earmarked for furnishing;
1.2. N100,000,000 and N20,000,000 received in March 2015 for The Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and 12 newspapers who demanded compensation for the brutal and unlawful seizure of newspapers and stoppage of circulation by armed soldiers in Abuja and several cities. As President of the NPAN, it was my duty to lead media leaders to hold discussions with President Goodluck Jonathan to avert a class action lawsuit against the Armed Forces and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
2. On both occasions, President Jonathan said he did not wish to lay precedence and in our case, he specifically said there were many victims of Boko Haram. I had to confront President Jonathan on the issue when I learnt of approvals for the reconstruction of the Abuja United Nations Building, since we were the second major organisation to be attacked by Boko Haram after the UN attack. He therefore directed me to meet the National Security Adviser who processed the 3 payments in question.
Please find attached a copy of our letter to President Jonathan as well as correspondence with the then NSA on the Newspapers’ payment. I will be making my way to Nigeria to meet with you should you require further information.
Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, THISDAY NEWSPAPERS GROUP.