The Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria has given reasons why it collected N120m from the office of the embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
It said its members whose newspapers were impounded by military personnel decided to jettison the idea of suing the Federal Government for the incident after the government agreed to a out of court settlement.
NPAN stated this in a communiqué issued at the end of its Executive Council meeting in Lagos on Thursday, December 17, to address the issues bordering on the compensation which had generated controversy.
According to NPAN, members of the association suffered huge losses in sales, advertising revenue and business goodwill by the military seizure of newspapers between Friday, June 6 and Sunday, June 8, 2014 in Abuja , Oyo, Ondo, Edo, Ekiti, Delta, Niger, Kogi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Imo, and Enugu states.
It added that many NPAN members affected by the assault considered court actions especially as the military authorities claimed that they had intelligence that newspaper vans were being used to ferry bomb-making materials.
“Amidst this tension, and perhaps to stem the spate of multiple litigation against the security agencies and the Federal Government, the then President Goodluck Jonathan, decided to hold a meeting with the executives of NPAN on June 12, 2014, at the State House, Marina, Lagos.
“At this meeting, the President apologised for the infraction of press freedom and the disruption of the business rhythm of our members. This was well received by our members. In recognition of the President’s gesture, one of our executive officers, Lady Maiden Ibru, spoke in favour of the association dropping the demand for compensation. But because some members wanted to seek redress in court, it was decided to pursue a civil resolution of the matter,” NPAN added.
The association further stated that having agreed with the Federal Government to settle the matter out of court, its members were consequently requested to submit a statement of their losses for consideration.
It stated, “All active member newspapers submitted their claims, with some as low as a few hundred thousand naira and others running into hundreds of millions. With no easy way to verify these widely divergent claims, the association leadership accepted the offer from the government, of a flat rate of N10m to each of the 12 media houses affected. The total amount came to N120m. Most of our members duly collected the compensation in good faith. Meanwhile, the cheques for The Guardian, Tribune and Peoples Daily, are still with our secretariat.”
Also, the association added that its member newspapers that received the money could not have any suspicion why it was paid from the office of the former NSA since the onslaught was carried out by the security forces which the office of the NSA superintended.
While saying that it was unfortunate that some people with modicum facts about the matter were linking it with the alleged misdeeds of those who might have received huge sums of money from the office of the NSA unlawfully, NPAN assured Nigerians that the trust reposed in the media remains unshaken.
The communiqué listed those who attended the meeting to include Mr. Sam Amuka (Life Patron, NPAN), Mallam Ismaila Isa (Life Patron, NPAN), Chief Segun Osoba( Past President, NPAN) and Mr. Ray Ekpu (Past President, NPAN).