The Board of Directors of the Blueprint Newspaper has returned the N9million it received as compensation from the administration of Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 for the seizure of its publications by security agents.
The newspaper announced this in a statement by its Executive Director, Operations, Salisu Umar, on Tuesday.
The Jonathan administration had given N120 million through the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, to the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, as compensation for the seizure of the publications of some of its members in 2014 by security agents.
The money was part of the $2.1 billion allegedly disbursed to different organisations and individuals by Mr. Dasuki. The former NSA is currently standing trial for the alleged disbursement.
A number of other beneficiary newspapers had earlier returned their shares of the money.
In the statement, Mr. Umar said a Guarantee Trust Bank draft of N9 million had already been paid to NPAN.
The statement said, “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 (NPAN) 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 N9miilion 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 development 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 (N9million) 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.”