The Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Bayo Onanuga, has denied allegations of fraud made against him by some unions in the agency.
In a letter to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Sunday, Mr Onanuga said he is ready to face the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) over the petition.
The petitioners, who signed off as Concern (sic) NAN Joint Union, levelled sundry allegations against Mr Onanuga, including diversion of fund from the agency to his personal use.
But Mr Onanuga dismissed the petitioners as faceless.
The NAN boss said the unions behind the petition were an illegal creation of the four unions in the agency.
He urged the minister to call the signatories of the petition to a meeting on Monday so that he could confront them with facts.
“I was shocked to read the allegations levelled against me by NAN Joint Union, an illegal creation of the four unions in the agency.
“More shocking was the description of my tenure by the signatories to the letter as ‘the worst’ and I ‘the most corrupt manager in the history of the agency.’ The descriptions are the most uncharitable, most wicked about my three-year tenure.”
Mr Onanuga said he met the agency almost comatose but has run it with financial prudence, “denying myself and my office of my entitlements, brutally cutting costs, all to ensure that it survives and fulfils the mandate for which it was set up 43 years ago.
“In all, I see the petitions as an attempt to rubbish the good work I have done in the agency. I am ready for a probe. The EFCC or ICPC should be invited to check the records.
“Since I assumed duty as Managing Director, I have never dipped my hands into the Agency’s coffers. I have demonstrated financial discipline by reducing waste, all because I believe the agency must survive first to fulfil its core business of news gathering and distribution.
“All the past three years, the unions have never accused me of financial impropriety. It is painful that at the end of my tenure, they suddenly cooked up the malicious and actionable allegations. All records are available to support my submission and I hope the signatories to the petition will be ready to defend their libellous allegations,” Mr Onanuga stated.
“The lies are designed to block my re-appointment. I wish them good luck. I believe the petitioners are afraid of impending reforms in the Agency and are doing everything possible to thwart efforts to make NAN compete favourably with its peers,” he added.
“It is simply wicked to accuse me of diverting the income to my personal use. The audited accounts will clear all issues around this.
“One of the signatories to the petition, Suleman failed the last promotion exam. He wanted me to promote him, nevertheless. I refused. He now wants a pound of flesh. As far as I know, all those who passed the tests were promoted. We also promoted those who fell on the borderline. Allegation of intimidation is baseless.
“The faceless group that calls itself CONCERN (SIC) STAFF OF NAN, accused me of sabotage, alleging that my PMNEWS breaks news before NAN. This is again groundless. PMNEWS subscribes to NAN and had been a subscriber for many years. PMNEWS also gets its news from a variety of sources,” he added.
Mr Onanuga was the Managing Director of Lagos-based PMNews and The News until his appointment in 2016 to head NAN.