Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has given the publisher of ThisDay Newspaper, Nduka Obaigbena a two-week ultimatum to refund N670million allegedly collected for unexecuted contracts. However, Obaigbena told investigators that he never benefitted from slush funds from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
He said the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan paid the said sums to “ThisDay” and the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) as compensation for the bombing of the newspaper house by Boko Haram and the seizure of copies of many newspapers by the military.
He noted that there was a presidential proclamation by former President Jonathan that “ThisDay” will be compensated for the loss to Boko Haram.
He said Jonathan made the pledge after an inspection visit to the newspaper. Obaigbena was quizzed for two days on the activities of General Hydrocarbons and inflow into the company’s account from ONSA.
A source, who spoke in confidence to TheNation said: “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.
“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. By all records, Obaigbena was paid for unexecuted contracts. It is government’s funds and he has to refund the N670million, “ an EFCC official said last night.
Obaigbena was said to have signed an undertaking to refund the money in question.