TheNation Newspapers Admits Receiving ‘Paltry’ N9million From Funds Given To Thisday Publisher
The Managing Director of Vintage Press Limited, publishers of The Nation and Sporting Life newspapers, Mr. Victor Ifijeh, yesterday explained how the company got “a paltry N9 million” instead of the N300 million it demanded from the Federal Government as compensation for bundles and copies of its newspapers seized by security agents in different parts of the country last year.
The Nation was one of the 12 newspapers named by the President of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Nduka Obaigbena, as beneficiaries of the sum of N120 million obtained from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki.
Explaining the company’s position yesterday, Ifijeh recalled that the company had written a letter to the NPAN notifying it of the company’s decision to demand the sum of N300 million from the Federal Government as compensation or resort to legal action.
The letter dated July 16, 2014 and signed by the company’s Managing Editor (Online/Special Duties), Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin, stated that Vintage Press Limited had suffered “monumental losses” from the clampdown on The Nation and Sporting Life..
“The days in question were Friday June6, Saturday June 7 and Sunday June 8, 2014,” the letter stated.
“On these days, soldiers who said they were acting under instructions ‘from above’ willfully and maliciously impounded the circulation vans of Vintage Press Limited carrying bundles and copies of The Nation and Sporting Life for distribution and sales across the country.
“The vans were impounded on the highways of Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Edo, Delta, Niger, Kogi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Imo, Abia, Enugu states and the FCT, Abuja.
“The soldiers arrested and detained in military barracks some of our drivers.
“Consequent upon the foregoing, over 100,000 copies of The Nation and 140,000 copies of Sporting Life on each of the three days could not be distributed and sold.
“The losses of Vintage Press Limited can be broken down as follows:
.Unsold copies of The Nation and Sporting Life seized across the country
.Advertisements in the papers on those days were affected.
.The emotional stress and psychological effect of this barbaric act on the company and its staff.”
The company had in another letter to Femi Falana, SAN, dated June 9, 2014, instructed the human rights lawyer to file am action against the Federal Government, claiming the sum of N3 million for Vintage Press Limited.
“As counsel for VPL in the matter, your mandate is to get the best judgment for the company in this case. We expect you to deploy your best legal skills and international best practices in doing so,” the letter signed by Ifijeh stated.
Recalling that Vintage Press Limited was prevailed upon by NPAN to shelve legal option, Ifijeh said “sometime in May this year, the NPAN met and Obaigbena told us that the government had agreed to pay N10 million to each newspaper that asked for compensation.
“The meeting resolved that N1 million of the amount be paid into the association’s coffers towards the purchase of a befitting secretariat.
“About a week later, the government made good its promise and Obaigbena sent a draft of N9 million to The Nation, saying that the money was from the Jonathan government.
“I had briefed the board of directors, the management committee and the editors conference about the negotiations and the three organs were equally informed of the receipt of the draft for N9 million.
“No further payment was made to The Nation by any other person, organisation or body on behalf of the Jonathan government.”