The Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) on Saturday gave reasons why some of its members were yet to receive compensation money released to the body by former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
The publisher of ThisDay Newspapers and President of NPAN, Nduka Obaigbena, had said in his response to a letter of invitation from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, acknowledged receiving N120 million in March 2015 on behalf of the association and 12 newspapers.
He said the money, contrary to speculation, was compensation to avert a class action lawsuit by the newspapers against the Nigerian military and federal government for the unlawful seizure and stoppage of circulation of their newspapers by armed soldiers in Abuja and several cities in June 2014.
But in separate statements on Friday, some of the 12 newspapers mentioned as beneficiaries of the compensation, dissociated themselves from the payments.
The newspapers are African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN) Plc, publishers of the Tribune titles; Peoples Media Limited, publishers of Peoples Daily; Daily Telegraph Publishing Company Limited, publishers of New Telegraph, Saturday Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, and Independent Newspapers Limited, publishers of Daily Independent newspapers.
So far, only Media Trust Ltd, publishers of Daily Trust Newspaper, has confirmed receiving compensation from NPAN for the seizure of its newspapers.
The Executive Secretary of NPAN, Feyi Smith, in a statement Saturday, explained why the affected papers had not been paid.
Mr. Smith said, “Our attention has been drawn to statements issued last night by the Nigerian Tribune, Peoples’ Daily and New Telegraph Newspapers claiming that they did not receive the compensation for the military disruption of circulation of newspapers by the Federal Government.
“It should be recalled that the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) Executive Council meeting of March 17, 2015, held at the offices of Daily Trust, Abuja, resolved to accept the N120million compensation and passed two other resolutions thereto:
(1) that each member- organisation accepts to donate N1million from the compensation to the Association for the up-keep of the Secretariat;
(2) that members should bring their membership account current, by paying all past dues to the Secretariat before collecting their cheques.
“The cheques for the Nigerian Tribune and Peoples’ Daily remain in the Secretariat awaiting collection.
“In the case of New Telegraph, the Secretariat was confronted with a situation where 13 Newspapers made claims while compensation for 12 newspapers was made. Blueprint Newspapers which was inadvertently omitted from the list has since been been paid.
“When New Telegraph now demanded payment that had been collected by Blueprint Newspapers, the secretariat then brought the matter to the attention of the of the President, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, who then called Governor Orji Kalu , the Publisher of both the Sun Newspapers (who had been paid) and the New Telegraph (which has not been paid), to urge him to be patient for the matter to be tabled at the next Executive Council meeting, where he would seek the approval of the EXCO to take the funds earmarked for the Secretariat to pay them”.