Nigerian editors also collected N50m from Dasuki- Obaigbena

Nigerian editors also collected N50m from Dasuki- Obaigbena
January 05 05:37 2016

The 2.1 billion dollar arms scandal rocking the Office of the National Security Adviser is getting messier with a revelation by ThisDay owner, Nduka Obaigbena that Nigerian editors also benefited from the alleged indiscriminate sharing of the funds.

Obaigbena,  who is also the chairman of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) is also under investigation by the   Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for allegedly benefiting from the funds illegally.

In his letter to the commission dated December 30, 2015, Obaigbena suggested that in the course of his dealings with the ONSA , he discovered that editors of national dailies under the umbrella of Nigerian Guild Editors also collected N50 million cash from the office for the completion of their secretariat.

Obaigbena is being investigated for receiving funds for NPAN and ThisDay newspapers.

Immediate past NSA, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) is also currently undergoing trial for series of charges bordering on misappropriation of public funds.

In his letter to the EFCC, Mr. Obaigbena explained that it was not only his company and NPAN that received funds from the ONSA, saying the NGE also received money for its secretariat complex.

While Nigerian Guild of Editors has called for the probe of the arms procurement scam, the NPAN president indicated that the editors also collected N50 million cash from Mr. Dasuki’s office.

“Even when he (Dasuki’s aide) 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,” Mr. Obaigbena said.

And in any case, I had no independent confirmation the Nigerian Guild of Editors had collected cash.”

Mr. Obaigbena further argued that there was no way NPAN could have known which subhead the funds were paid from.

He argued that the media practitioners could not know or 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,” he continued.

He called for the complete list of payments made by the ONSA between 2014 and 2015 to be made public in order to have a clearer picture of what happened to the over N70 billion allocated to the Defence Ministry for the purchase of arms.

Mr. Obaigbena said as victims of a horrendous terrorist attack, media practitioners should not be victimized any further as the terrorists would be celebrating what they are being put through.

“We do not deserve further trauma because some official(s), outside of our control, may or may not have followed due process,” he further argued.

“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. We never wished this upon ourselves.

“The central purpose of government is the security of life and property of all citizens. And the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as other international law instruments and conventions of which Nigeria is a signatory underscores this – and in fact requires that we receive effective remedy and compensation,” Mr. Obaigbena said.

He also took time to explain why the ONSA paid N670 million and another N120 million to one of his firms, General Hydrocarbons Ltd, and how the funds were used.

Coincidentally, the NGE president who was in charge at a period Obaigbena is referring to, Femi Adesina is presently spokesman to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Represented by Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, President Goodluck Jonathan had in April 2014 at the NGE national secretariat fund launch pledged N50 million for the project.