The Board of Directors of Blueprint Newspapers has returned the N9m compensation it collected from the past government over copies of its newspaper seized by security agents under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN, under the leadership of Nduka Obiagbena of This Day has been under fire over the compensation money, which was linked to the controversial arms acquisition funds given to former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
The company’s Executive Director, Operations, Salisu Umar, who made this disclosure in a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja, said a GTB bank draft of N9m, had been paid to the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria.
According to him, “The infraction on the rights of some newspapers by some agents of the Federal Government was widely reported in 2014. Specifically, the said agents seized numerous copies of the affected newspapers, including Blueprint. And in line with the dictates of the rule of law, the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria and the affected members chose to head to court for redress.
“In its wisdom, however, the Federal Government led by the then President Goodluck Jonathan, after a peace parley with the NPAN leadership, agreed to an out-of-court settlement, consequent upon which the affected media organisations, including Blueprint Newspaper, got N9m each. This decision, to any reasonable mind is very much in order as it simply demonstrated that the Federal Government rightfully admitted its wrongdoing.
“However, in view of the unfolding developments surrounding the arms deal investigation, which supposedly revealed that the restitution was paid from fund set aside for arms deal, the Board of Directors, has refunded same (N9m) via a GTB bank draft No. 04378726, drawn in NPAN’s name, dated February 1, 2016, and forwarded to NPAN Secretariat.
“In the least, this will certainly put to rest some misgivings that have been on over the compensation paid to media owners. May we also add here that more than any other thing, the Board considers this a great sacrifice if that would only uphold the integrity of the media as a member of the Fourth Estate of the Realm and the true watchdog of the society.
“Finally, we shall continue to abide by NPAN’s decision on this and any other matter bordering on its members’ interest.”