The Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Thisday newspaper, Nduka
Obaigbena, has said the immediate past National Security Adviser (NSA)
Sambo Dasuki, paid him N670 million as compensation for attacks on his
newspaper’s offices in Abuja and Kaduna in 2012.
He said he also received compensation for the illegal seizure of newspapers by men of the armed forces.
Mr. Obaigbena made the disclosure while responding to an invitation
by the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) in connection to the
ongoing probe into the usage of $2.1 billion arms procurement fund by
the office of the NSA under Mr Dasuki.
Mr Dasuki, alongside so top officials of the former ruling party,
the Peoples Democratic Party, and other former senior officials are
currently being investigated for the alleged diversion of the fund.
Mr Obaigbena is the second owner of a mainstream media organisation,
after the founder of DAAR Communications, owners of Africa Independent
Television and Raypower radio network, Raymond Dokpesi, who have been
mentioned in the investigation.
Mr Dokpesi, who is still in EFCC custody, is facing a six-count
charge of fraud and money laundering in a federal High Court in Abuja.
In a letter, dated December 9, 2015, addressed to the Chairman of the
EFCC, Mr Obaigbena explained that he was in the United States and would
honour the invitation in person as soon as he returned to the country.
He, however, stated that he thought it necessary to issue a statement
prior to his return.
He denied to have ever received any suspicious funds from the office
of the NSA adding that all funds he received were “payment for
compensation to mitigate” terror attacks on the head office of his
newspaper in Abuja and another attack on the newspaper’s office in
“N100,000,000 +N100,000,000 and N250,000,000 respectively received in
August, November and February 2014 as compensation to mitigate the
dastardly Boko Haram twin bombing of the Thisday newspapers offices in
Abuja and Kaduna on Thursday April 26, 2012, during which four innocent
Nigerian lives were lost, our building destroyed and we lost full colour
Goss printing towers and three (3) pre-press Computer-To-Plate and
auxiliary equipment and other (in)valuable property valued at over N2.5
billion having lost our printing facility to terrorists due to
inadequate protection by the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he wrote.
Mr Obaigbena added that he was compelled to make the request after
the federal government spent N3 billion in reconstructing the United
Nations office that was bombed by Boko Haram in August 2011.
He further wrote that he received additional N120 million in March
2015 on behalf of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria
(NPAN) and 12 newspapers who asked to be compensated for the “unlawful
seizure and stoppage of circulation by armed soldiers in Abuja and
Mr. Obaigbena explained that as the Chairman of NPAN, he did that to
forestall a planned class action the newspapers were going to institute
against the government.
He explained that on both occasions, former President Goodluck
Jonathan initially refused to accede to the demands so as not to create a
precedence but later approved the payment after he (Nduka) confronted
him with the effort the government had undertaken to reconstruct the UN
“On both occasions, President Jonathaan 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 the approval for the reconstruction of the Abuja United
Nations Building, since we were the second major organisation that would
be attacked by Boko Haram after the UN attack. He therefore directed me
to meet with the National Security Adviser who processed the three
payments in question.”