As fallout of revelations that the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), got N120million from ex-National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, for some newspapers, PUNCH Nigeria Limited has suspended its membership of the association.
In a letter to NPAN dated Thursday, December 17, 2015 and signed by its chairman, Mr. Wale Aboderin, the newspaper said the disbursement of the N120million in murky circumstances informed its decision.
The letter reads: After a careful review of recent, and still unfolding, developments, Punch Nigeria Limited is suspending its membership of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria until further notice. This suspension takes effect immediately.
“The public will recall the criminal charges levelled against a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and several other alleged accomplices. These charges border on the diversion of public funds, totalling $2.1 billion, allocated for the purchase of arms to prosecute the war against terrorism.
“The revelations indicate that the sum of N120 million was disbursed in murky circumstances to some member-companies of NPAN, ostensibly as compensation for the losses they incurred in June 2014 when armed soldiers seized newspapers and newspaper distribution vans.
“The source of this money and the manner of its receipt, allegedly through a company called General Hydrocarbons, which is unknown to NPAN, have raised public concerns about the integrity of the Press in Nigeria. The unfolding scandal has equally cast a shadow on the reputation of the mass media.
“At PUNCH, we have always held that state-sponsored attacks against the media should be challenged in the open, boldly and vigorously. It was for this reason that we instituted an action against the Federal Government at the Federal High Court, Lagos, on June 13, 1994. Among other reliefs, the company sought compensation for the June 11, 1994 invasion of our premises by a combined team of policemen and State Security Service agents who shut down our operations and detained our staff. Suffice to say that the case is currently at the Supreme Court where the Federal Government is seeking to overturn the judgment of Justice T.A. Odunowo, who declared the invasion illegal and awarded PUNCH the sum of N25m in damages.
“We reiterate the need to rebuild and refocus the NPAN as a vibrant, independent business association and pressure group, funded only by its member-organisations. We will ONLY reconsider our withdrawal from NPAN when the critical issues which we, and other concerned stakeholders, have raised are addressed.”