Following news reports that he was implicated in the $2.1 billion arms deal scandal, Chief Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of ThisDay Newspapers, has denied receiving any ‘suspicious funds’ from the office of the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
Mr. Obaigbena, who is currently away in the United States, said in a letter dated December 9 in response to an invitation by the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) that all funds he received from Mr. Dasuki were “payment for compensation to mitigate” the dastardly Boko Haram twin bombings of the ThisDay offices in Abuja and Kaduna in April of 2012.
He put the damage suffered by his newspaper as a result of the terror attacks at over N2.5 billion.
In the letter, Obaigbena, who owns the US-based Arise News television, wrote:
“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 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”.
In what appeared to be his attempt at justifying the “compensation” he received, Mr Obaigbena said the bombing of his newspaper offices in Abuja and Kaduna came on the heels of the United Nations building bombing in Abuja by Boko Haram, for which the Nigerian government had already spent N3 billion for reconstruction with more earmarked for furnishing.
He further wrote that he received additional N120 million in tranches of N100,000,000 and N20,000,000 in March 2015 on behalf of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and 12 newspapers, who demanded compensation for the “unlawful seizure and stoppage of circulation by armed soldiers in Abuja and several cities”.
Mr. Obaigbena explained that as President of the NPAN, he led media leaders to hold discussions with former President Goodluck Jonathan to avert a class action lawsuit against the Armed Forces and federal government.
He further stated that on both occasions, the former president initially refused to accede to the demands so as not to create a precedence as there were many victims of Boko Haram, but later approved the payment after he (Nduka) confronted him with the effort the government had undertaken to reconstruct the UN building in Abuja.
“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”, Mr. Obaigbena explained.