BY ESE DIBEBI
According to The Nation reports, publisher of ThisDay and owner of Arise TV, Nduka Obaigbena has been given a two-week ultimatum by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to refund N670 million.
This is related to the ongoing $2.1 billion #DasukiGate arms scandal probe and Obaigbena is believed to have received the money for unexecuted contracts even though he has denied receiving any funds from the former National Security Adviser.
According to him, the N670 million was paid by the previous government as compensation for the bombing of ThisDay house by religious insurgents also known as Boko Haram.
Obaigbena claimed that former President Goodluck Jonathan made a pledge to compensate his newspapers outfit after he paid the outfit an inspection visit. He also said, apart from the bombings, members of the military also stormed the newspaper house and seized copies of several nespapers, prompting the money to be shared with the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN).
However, an EFCC source claimed that it wasn’t ThisDay that was being investigated. “What we are investigating is General Hydrocarbons. Records from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) indicated that Nduka Obaigbena is a director of the company. ONSA reported that General Hydrocarbons was one of the companies that received payments purportedly for contracts without contract documents or approval,” the source said.
“Between December 8, 2014 and May 23, 2015, Obaigbena received N670million from ONSA. The reasons stated on the payment mandates are as follows: First tranche of N150million(environmental security project) and the remaining tranches(payment for energy consultancy). Obaigbena said he was paid compensation of N550 million for the bombing of ThisDay office in Abuja but there is no nexus between this payment and the money he collected for contracts. None of the sums shows that what he got from ONSA was compensation. The complaint before us is that the company was given money without contractual agreement,” the official continued.
This headache for Obaigbena is coming barely a week after reports emerged that his Arise TV networks based in London is going under due to debts to the tune of millions of Pounds being owed to workers and several international news outlets from which Arise gets some of its materials from.