Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) has reacted to claims that the association was involved in the $2.1 billion Arms Deal alleged against former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
The association insisted that no money was gotten illegally and the freedom of the press in Nigeria remains unshaken.
In a statement by its Deputy President, Malam Kabiru Yusuf and General Secretary, Dame Comfort Obi, the association condemned attempts to link it with “the alleged misdeeds of those who may have received huge sums of money from the office of the NSA”.
It assured members of the public that “the fierce independence, diversity and forthrightness that have characterised the Nigerian press remain unshaken”.
The statement continued “The association was concerned by the insinuations, posturing and uninformed commentary on the matter and wishes, and out of respect to its readers and advertisers, will set the records straight.
“Between Friday June 6 and Sunday June 8, 2014, some military officers and other security personnel impounded bundles of newspapers and circulation vans belonging to our members in Abuja, Oyo, Ondo, Edo, Ekiti, Delta, Niger, Kogi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Imo and Enugu states, among others. In some of these locations, this illegal obstruction lasted five days.
“By this unlawful seizure of newspapers, our members suffered huge losses in sales and advertising revenue and in business goodwill. Many of our members affected by this reckless assault considered resorting to the courts to seek redress.
“Amidst this tension, and perhaps to stem the spate of multiple litigation against the security agencies and the Federal Government, former President Goodluck Jonathan held a meeting with the NPAN executives on June 12, 2014, at the State House, Marina, Lagos.
“At this meeting, he apologised for the infraction of press freedom and the disruption of the business rhythm of our members. This was well received by our members.
“The Federal Government and NPAN agreed to settle the matter out of court. In consequence of this, members were requested to submit a statement of their losses for consideration.
“Having suffered a lot of harassment during the military era, with some cases still winding their way through our courts, members agreed to a reasonable settlement over prolonged confrontation.
“Member-newspapers that received money could not have any suspicion why it was paid from the office of the former National Security Adviser since the onslaught on newspapers was carried out by the security forces over which the office of the NSA, to some extent, superintended.
“It is unfortunate that some people not in possession of the full facts are seeking to link the NPAN with the alleged misdeeds of those who may have received huge sums of money from the office of the NSA unlawfully. Nothing can be further from the truth.”
The association claimed that it accepted “a flat rate of N10 million to each of the 12 media houses affected. The total amount came to N120 million”.
The statement added that most members have collected their compensation in good faith, the statement said, while cheques for The Guardian, Tribune and Peoples Daily, are still at the NPAN Secretariat.