Chairman and editor-in-chief of Thisday newspaper, Nduka Obaigbena, has said the Nigerian Guild of Editors led by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina collected N50 million from the office of the former National Security Adviser, (NSA) Colonel Sambo Dasuki in what some reports are saying it was “bribe”.
Adesina was president of Nigerian Guild of Editors at the time the N50 million was allegedly paid from Dasuki’s office.
Mr. Obaigbena, president of Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) revealed this information in a letter, dated December 30, 2015, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC had last December invited Obaigheba in connection with the ongoing probe into the reported $2.1 billion arms procurement deal allegedly misappropriated by Dasuki.
It can be recalled that the personal assistant to President Buhari, Sabi’u Yusuf had been indicted in the arms deal scandal as N850 million was traced to a bank account in Access Bank bearing his name. The information on the account was provided by sources linked to the embattled former National Security Advisor, Colonel Dasuki.
Mr. Dasuki, alongside some top officials of the Peoples Democratic Party, and other former senior officials are currently being investigated for allegedly receiving the arms fund.
In his letter to the EFCC, Mr. Obaigbena explained that it was not only his company and NPAN that received funds from the NSA’ office. He revealed that the news editor’s guild also received N50 million from the NSA’s office presumably for the building of its secretariat complex. At this time this money was paid, Adesina was the head of the association.
The NGE has called for the probe of the arms fund, irking the the NPAN president, it would appear. It is curious that the editor’s association has remained mum on the allegation of receiving N50 million from Dasuki when he was NSA. But, were swift in calling for the probe of the newspaper proprietor’s assocation when the news first broke that the ThisDay publisher at received certain amounts of money from the NSA.
“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 wrote.
“And in any case, I had no independent confirmation the Nigerian Guild of Editors had collected cash.”
The letter further read:
“We did supply the account of NPAN to the Federal Government through the ONSA once we agreed the N120,000,000 compensation for member newspapers. But when I got a call from an official of the ONSA informing me that the payments agreed with The President was ready and should arrange to pick up cash, I balked and refused, asking him to pay to the NPAN account.
“Even when he 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 and in any case, I had no independent confirmation the Nigerian Guild of Editors had collected cash.
“And even if they did, I was not prepared to do so. And when he insisted, after I had refused to pick up such a huge amount in cash, we agreed in good faith they credit the account of General Hydrocarbons Ltd, who upon legal advice, were acting in agency in line with industry practice where most payments are received through agencies, but in this instance, at no cost.
“General Hydrocarbons Ltd did receive the payments on behalf of NPAN and delivered same to NPAN, at no cost, despite bank charges. General Hydrocarbons Ltd – a member of the THISDAY Newspapers Group – who are bonafide members of NPAN – therefore collected the compensation on behalf NPAN and passed on exactly what was collected.
“Against this background, we summoned a high – powered NPAN team that reached the out-of-court settlement with the Federal Government and they included: Nduka Obaigbena (THISDAY), Chief Olusegun Osoba (Past NPAN President invited to underscore the seriousness of the issues), Uncle Sam Amuka (Vanguard Newspapers), Lady Maiden Ibru (Guardian Newspapers), Wale Aboderin (Punch Newspapers), Victor Ifijeh (The Nation Newspapers), Femi Adesina ( Sun Newspapers), Bayo Onanuga ( The News Magazine Group), Frank Aigbogun (BusinessDay), Mrs Nwadiuto Iheakanwa ( Champion Newspapers), Comfort Obi ( Source Magazine and General Secretary), Mr Akanni Aluko ( New Telegraph), Gbenga Adefaye (Vanguard), Toke Alex Ibru ( Guardian), Ayo Arowolo (THISDAY), and Feyi Smith ( NPAN).”