The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has denied claims it received N50million from former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), who is currently facing trial over the mismanagement of $2.1 million arms fund among other charges.
President of the Guild, Garba Deen Mohammed, made this known in a statement on Wednesday.
According to Mohammed, the NGE was constrained to issue a statement to clarify the circumstances surrounding the N50m donation made to it by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan after several calls and expressions of concern by a number of well-meaning Nigerians.
His words: “On 10 April, 2014, the NGE held a fundraising dinner at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, to raise N850m (eight hundred and fifty million Naira) for the purpose of building a befitting secretariat in Abuja which shall be called The Editors Plaza. It was a public event, attended by several dignitaries among them federal cabinet ministers, state governors and captains of industry or their representatives.
“Former President Goodluck Jonathan was invited to the event at which he was represented by the former Minister of Information and National Orientation Mr. Labaran Maku
“At the event, Mr. Maku, among other donors, publicly pledged N50million as the federal government’s contribution towards the building project. Indeed the announcement of this donation has been on the website of the NGE since April 12, 2014; and is still there for those who may wish to verify.
“Shortly after the event, the federal government redeemed its pledge through a transfer direct into the Zenith bank account of the NGE. For the avoidance of doubt, neither Mr. Femi Adesina, who was the President of the Guild at the time nor any other official of the Guild collected cash from the government as has been erroneously alleged by Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, publisher of THISDAY newspapers in a letter he sent to the EFCC and made public on Monday, January 4, 2016.
“Funds collected by the Guild during the fundraiser have so far been invested in two projects viz:
- The purchase of a property in Lagos which we have named The Editors House and is located at No. 24, Mojidi Street, Off Toyin Street, Ikeja-Lagos.
(II) Paying compensation, clearing and fencing of our 5, 600 Sqm piece of land at Guzape, Abuja, which is the site of the proposed Editors Plaza.
“In Lagos, we have since commissioned a team of engineers and architects for the purpose of renovating the property, a twin duplex, preparatory to our moving in hopefully in the first quarter of 2016; while in Abuja, we have already commenced the process of obtaining a building permit from the authorities of the FCT preparatory to the groundbreaking ceremony for the Editors Plaza building later in the year 2016.”
Obaigbena, President of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), had in a letter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) suggested that the NGE collected N50 million from Dasuki.
This followed the Guild’s call for a probe of the $2.1 billion arms procurement fund from which Obaigbena allegedly received the sum of N670million in his capacity as ThisDay publisher and NPAN president.
In his letter to the EFCC, Obaigbena argued that it was not only his company and NPAN that received funds from Dasuki, but the NGE also received N50million for its secretariat complex.
“Even when he (Dasuki’s aide) suggested that The Nigerian Guild of Editors – NGE – who are now calling for a probe – was paid N50,000,000 cash by the ONSA when President Jonathan donated to the building of the NGE secretariat, I still refused to collect cash,” Obaigbena said.
“And in any case, I had no independent confirmation the Nigerian Guild of Editors had collected cash.”
Mohammed’s statement however said, “It is regrettable that an earlier statement by the Guild on the anti-corruption war of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari may not be unconnected with recent attempts to drag the Guild into matter in which it has no case to answer whatsoever.”