The Punch newspaper was founded by two friends, James Aboderin, an accountant, and Sam Amuka, a columnist and editor at the Daily Times of Nigeria. Amuka became the first editor of the Sunday Punch. In November 1976, a few years after the first print of its Sunday edition, the duo started printing their trademark daily newspaper. Both editions were designed to favour a friendlier apolitical approach to news reporting, combining footage of social events with everyday political news. The paper sustains itself by delving into broad issues that interest myriad people.
However, during the twilight of the Second Republic, political exigencies had introduced conflicts to its original intentions, Aboderin and Amuka parted ways due partly to political conflicts. Aboderin later secured the support of his former foe, M. K. O. Abiola, after the latter left the NPN. The paper began to take on a political stance, mostly against the Shagari regime. Supposedly, days before the end of the administration of Shagari, a few Punch editors were aware of a coup approaching and injected strong anti-government tones in their reporting.
The Punch was not immune to the excess of authoritarian regimes in the country. In 1990, its editor was jailed for 54 days. In 1993 and 1994, the publishing house was closed on the direction of the nation’s ruler.
Punch Nigeria Limited was registered on August 8, 1970, under the Companies Act of 1968 to engage in the business of publishing newspapers, magazines and other periodicals of public interest. It was designed to perform the tripartite functions of the popular mass media: informing, educating and entertaining Nigerians and the world at large. The company has a Board of Directors, hereinafter referred to as the Board, which is the highest policy-making organ of the company.
Its policies and directives are implemented by a Management team led by the Managing Director (MD) who is the Company’s Chief Executive Officer. As a corporate business entity, the company exists to make profit and by doing so, seeks to improve the lot of its owners and employees and also contribute its quota to the country’s economic development.
In 1971, the company made its debut with the publication of HAPPY HOME, a glossy family-oriented magazine. Its first editor was Bunmi Sofola. On Sunday, March 18, 1973, its first weekly newspaper, Sunday PUNCH, hit the newsstands. Edited by Ajibade Fashina-Thomas.
THE PUNCH, a daily tabloid followed on November 1, 1976. Its pioneer editor was Dayo Wright. However, by the 1980s, the two tabloid had been repackaged.
On April 29, 1990, a week after an attempted coup d’état against the Federal Military Government, the company was closed down. The closure lasted a month while the then Deputy Editor of THE PUNCH, Chris Mammah, was detained for 54 days. Again in July 1993, The Federal Military Government shut the company’s premises, vide Decree No 48 of 1993, and banned all its publications from circulating in the country. The closure followed the political crisis caused by annulment of June 12, 1993, Presidential election.
On November 17 of the same year, the proscription order was repealed vide the Decree No 115 of 1993. The Federal Military Government struck on the July 24, 1994, and proscribed all the titles including TOPLIFE, which had been revived and published as a weekly magazine then. The then editor of THE PUNCH, Bola Bolawole, was detained for three days in his office in the old building. During the closure, the government ignored a court order that it should vacate the premises of the company and also pay the sum of N25 million and N100,000.00 respectively to the company and Bolawole. It was not until October 1, 1995 that government de-proscribed the publication vide a national day broadcast by the Head of State. In spite of all these, the company has pledged not to abdicate its responsibilities to the country. The current Chairman of the Board of Directors, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola, had on March 22, 1996, at the first Victor Adebamgbe Memorial lecture assured that