… As Governor’s largess tears Union
The Nigerian Union of Journalists, Imo State Council has advised the public to beware of a group of persons parading itself as “Imo NUJ executive”.
In a press release issued in Owerri, the Chairman Imo State NUJ, Chief Innocent Igwe said the attention of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Imo State Council has been drawn to a deliberate plan hatched by a few disgruntled elements to impersonate the leadership of NUJ as well as deceive, confuse, mislead and defraud the general public for their self serving purposes.
“For the avoidance of all doubts, there is no change in the leadership of NUJ in Imo State and there is no leadership crisis anywhere in the council. However, a few disgruntled elements in one out of the twenty two chapels that make up the Imo Council unilaterally felt aggrieved over a purely internal matter and in their wisdom resorted to cheap blackmail and self-help which they are expanding into criminality.
“We are deeply constrained however that as the council awaits the report of the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee of NUJ which is investigating the matter at issue as provided for by the NUJ constitution, these persons are cashing on the civil profile of NUJ as a structured and constitutionally operated union to deceive, mislead, misinform, confuse and dupe unsuspecting general public.
“We therefore alert the security Agencies, Government Establishments and the general public to beware of this latest form of criminality and let no one be deceived. There is no new leadership of NUJ in Imo State. The present leadership was elected in May 2015 for three year tenure. All should be properly guided please,” the release advised.
The release said, the persons whose acclaimed membership of the NUJ are yet to be confirmed by the Practice Accreditation Board have been frequenting various government offices and security agencies to tell those they could deceive that they are the new leaders of NUJ in Imo State.
Our correspondent said that the current imbroglio in the state NUJ was triggered off by the donation of N5 million to journalists by Governor Rochas Okorocha after a press briefing at the NUJ Press Centre.
In a release signed by the Secretary of the Correspondents Chapel, Damian Duruiheoma, the group “frowned seriously at the disdainful manner in which the Innocent Igwe-led NUJ Executive Committee treated Correspondents (reporters of media houses based outside Imo State) as well as other practicing journalists in the state while disbursing the five million naira.
“Our position is that the chapel shall be given the sum of one million naira out of the amount since the NUJ Exco gave the Independent Newspaper Publishers Association (INPA) with only 21 members, a chunk of N1,000,000”
Following this development, the chapel correspondent resolved to “henceforth boycott all events organized at the instance of the current leadership of NUJ, Imo State Council, including all programmes that involve the NUJ leadership directly or indirectly.”
However, the Imo NUJ considered the action of the Correspondent Chapel unprofessional and unethical and therefore suspended the chapel following a resolution reached by the State Executive Council (SEC), consisting of Imo NUJ State exco, chairmen and secretaries of the 22 chapels of the council.
Reacting to the suspension, the Correspondents Chapel described it as “cheap blackmail against the chapel and vowed to continue “in this renewal struggle to save journalism practice in Imo from being destroyed by a few non-practitioners who are just union politicians.”
The crisis however took a dramatic turn recently when a group of journalists claimed that they have sacked the Igwe-led NUJ and “elected” a new exco.
The “election” is said to have taken place in a hotel in Owerri.
However, many vetran journalists described the “election” as bizarre as there are constitutional means of changing NUJ leadership, at the national, state and chapel levels as well as internal mechanisms for resolving disputes in the union. They also observed as strange the recognition of the so called Independent Newspapers Publishers Association (INPA) by Imo NUJ as if it were an affiliate of the Union.
In a related development, the former Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Imo State, Chief Fidel Onyeneke has advised all journalists and media practitioners to desist from any act that will bring disrepute and dishonour to NUJ as a professional body.
Onyeneke said in a press release that on no account should any one do anything that would tarnish the image and reputation of the Union, no matter the level of provocation.
Onyeneke who was the National Trustee of NUJ cautioned against attempts to balkanize and disorganize the Union which is widely acclaimed and respected by all people of goodwill.
He condemned the situation where an internal disagreement amongst some members of NUJ in Imo State is allowed to escalate to the level of washing dirty linens in the public.
He urged all the aggrieved persons to sheat their swords considering the fact that nobody is above the union.
He advised any aggrieved member of the Union to follow the NUJ Constitution to handle the issue and seek redress. Onyeneke assured that the misunderstanding between the Correspondents Chapel and Imo State Council of NUJ would be resolved immediately. He called for calm by everybody while the elders and leaders of Journalism profession settle the issue dispassionately.