NAN discredits Premium Times, urges public to ignore false reports

By Post Nigeria May 1, 2015 13:55

NAN discredits Premium Times, urges public to ignore false reports

The Management of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, has discredited the Premium Times report of April 29, where it claimed that the Ministry of Information ordered the NAN board to immediately commence investigations into over a dozen allegations of corruption and highhandedness against the Agency’s boss, Ima Niboro.

According to Premium Times, the board had raised a three-man committee, led by a board member, Ossai Ifeanyi, to thoroughly investigate the allegations against Mr. Niboro and report back to the board without delay.

NAN management has released a press statement debunking the report in its entirety and urged the public to disregard the report totally despite Premium Times saying it stands by its story and will provide updates as events unfold.

See full press release below:

    “The Management of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN has read with dismay the publication in the 29 April, 2015 edition of Premium Times, an online newspaper. The publication claimed that the “Government of Nigeria”, whatever that means in this context has queried the Managing Director and ordered a probe of his stewardship in the agency. We want to place on record at no time has the Managing Director been queried, because there is no basis for that.

    “It is also incorrect to state that the Managing Director is being probed. What is correct is that some three fictitious names wrote a petition addressed to the Ministry in which they made several wild allegations. By the statutes of the Federal Public Service, allegations from fictitious sources are not accorded official attention. The relevant PSR clause 090206 states: ‘A petition must bear the full name, staff number, signature and address of the petitioner.’

    “In forwarding copy of the petition to NAN, the Federal Ministry of Information clearly acknowledged that the petition was fictitious, and in spite of the fact that we had the full protection of the law not to dignify the inanities therein with a response, the Managing Director, Ima Niboro, insisted, and took time to address and respond to all allegations contained in the fake document.

    “He went further to open the books of the Agency for third-party review with Premium Times simply because there is absolutely nothing to hide in NAN. In fact, the managing Director invited the key officers of the agency such as the Director, Finance and Administration; Assistant Director and Head of the Procurement Unit; Deputy Director and Head of Technical Services, and the Editor-in-Chief to join him in the Premium Times interview and answer all the questions openly and with all required documentation. In all, the NAN management team spent almost three hours with the Premium Times team, which in turn expressed satisfaction that we had successfully addressed and cleared up all the allegations.

    “We were however surprised to wake up to the false and misleading headline yesterday claiming that the Managing Director had been queried and was under probe. This is false in every material particular. It is on record that Mr. Niboro has been at the forefront of insisting that an independent review be taken of that fake petition for record purposes, even if just to show the ridiculousness of the claims. We find it unfortunate that Premium Times rather absent mindedly extracted one liners from a group interview of three hours, and in the process glossed over clear answers to key questions.

    “We now proceed to re-address the issues raised in the Premium Time’s story which we had previously addressed but were deliberately ignored by the publication. They alleged that the award of news portal contract to Infomall Nigeria Limited was without tendering.

    “We reiterated that the petitioners were being clever by half. What is being referred to here is the scope of expansion work on the portal. That expansion became imperative after the original contract for the award had been perfected revealing further need for expansion to accommodate the massive data in photo, broadcast content etc that we routinely distribute. We further showed Premium Times a copy of the minutes of the tenders board meeting No. 5/2014 held on Thursday 18th November, 2014.

    “Premium Times expounded on the claims of the petitioners to the effect that the same company was awarded a second contract for data archiving for N16.5 million and the sum paid instantly, ‘without certification by the technical or IT unit.’ The sad thing is that prior to this publication, Premium Times were given unfettered access into the official files of NAN on all the transactions by the Management. We showed the minutes of the tenders board indicating that the value of that contract was N10 million and not N16.5million. They were equally shown a copy of the technical certification signed by Director, Technical Services, in respect of the contract perfection, yet they chose to mislead the public by repeating the claims of fake petitioners.

    “Again lifting from discredited petition, Premium Times, delves into the allegation that Mr. Niboro ‘acquired two Ford Pilot trucks, both costing N10.9million.’ You are tempted to ask what the point here is over a media house without any serviceable pick-up vehicle acquiring two within one calendar year? Not done yet, the publication lifts a most absurd dimension of the petition to the effect that Mr. Niboro purchased ‘a Range Rover 2015 model worth N23million.’ There is nowhere and at no time that NAN considered or ventured to purchase a Range Rover for the MD or any other officer.

    “Perhaps, what has taken up the awful imaginations of the petitioners is the Managing Director’s personal Range Rover which he purchased in 2010. Any clear minded staff of NAN will recall that on 7th February, 2014, the very first day the MD came to NAN premises following his appointment, he drove into NAN in that particular Range Rover. He has often come to work with the car as with his other personal cars.

    “They claim that Niboro in fact pays contractors in full from start. Our answer is that the records are not hidden and were made available to the reporters of Premium Times. Under our strict observance of procurement processes no such thing is possible because there must be a job completion certification before payment schedules are approved to Finance and Accounts. In fact, the contractor for head office renovation that they claim is fully paid up is being owed several million.

    “Further claims to the effect that contractors were paid in cash were also raised. Our response is that we are not in such a primitive age. Processes leave their trails behind. Each of our transactions were properly documented through banking processes and we ask these reporters to do their cross checking of each information we give them with the banks in question. No such cash payment to contractors is possible under the regime of public financial regulations in operations now.