With less than two months to elections in the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Taraba state, two factions are pitched against each other in a supremacy battle for the leadership of the Chapel.
It all started when the Wole Ayodele-led exco was reportedly voted out by 18 of the 25-member Chapel for alleged refusal to hold congresses.
This was said to violate “Article 5 (F) (6.a) of the Constitution of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)”.
Sani Sulaiman of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), in a press conference held last week, said the impeachment followed a Vote of No Confidence earlier passed on the exco.
“The inability of the exco officials to hold congresses translates to lack of transparency and accountability in the administration of the chapel,” he added.
He said that Congress acted under Article 7, Subsection 3(III) of the NUJ Constitution to impeach the officials who have betrayed their trust.
Sulaiman added that “when the former Secretary of the Chapel, Mallam Nabilu Balarabe of NAN, left on transfer for over two years, even as at the time of this press conference, the Ayodele-led exco has refused to fill the vacancy through a bye-election.
“This violates Article 5(F)(5.a) of the NUJ Constitution which says such a vacancy shall be filled through bye-election within a period of three months.”
The exco consist of Wole Ayodele of Thisday (Chairman), Odeh Ogaji of The Voice (Vice-Chairman), Justin Tyopuusu of The Punch (Assistant Secretary), Gabriel Yough of News Agency of Nigeria NAN (Treasurer), John Mkom of Leadership (Financial Secretary).
The impeached officers were then directed to return to the acting exco all documents and properties in their possession belonging to the chapel within 24 hours.
“Any member of the public or group who transacts any business with the impeached officials on behalf of the chapel does it at their risks,” Congress said.
The new officers elected to act include: Alhaji Magaji Hunkuyi of Daily Trust (Acting Chairman), Nathaniel Gbaoron of BusinessDay (Acting Secretary) and Bashir Adamu (Liberty TV/Radio) as Acting Treasurer.
A five-man team was also appointed to recover all Chapel documents and properties still in possession of the sacked officials and report back to Congress within 21 days.
The team is made up of Ben Adaji of the New Telegraph as Chairman, Andrew Ojih (Blue Print) as a member, Sylvanus Viashima of The Sun (member), Yusuf Bawuro of Radio Gotel (member) and Salisu Waziri (VON) to serve as Secretary.
Meanwhile, the “sacked exco” quickly responded by suspending three of her colleagues for allegedly “flouting the directive of the National Secretariat of NUJ, which suspended all union activities owing to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Those suspended include Sani Sulaiman of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Ben Adaji of New Telegraph and Magaji Hunkuyi of Daily Trust Newspapers.
An emergency meeting was reportedly held at the Secretariat of the Correspondents Chapel in Jalingo, where the executive of the union led by Wole Ayodele of ThisDay Newspapers announced the suspension of the trio.
Reports also gathered by The News Chronicle say the congress was attended by 14 members of the chapel, including the two sitting executive members who were earlier said to have resigned their appointments as Auditor and Vice-Chairman.
According to the embattled Chairman of the Chapel, Wole Ayodele, “They claimed we have 25 members in the Correspondent Chapel but our record shows that we only have 24 registered members.
“They also claimed 19 members signed the dissolution of the present executive including the Vice Chairman and the Auditor who they said resigned their appointments.
“But as you can see, the two executives who they claimed resigned are here with us and we have in total 14 of the 24 registered members of the chapel here.
“Our tenure will end in less than two months and we know they are scared of the forthcoming elections because they don’t have the members support to win, hence they resorted to falsehood.
“Besides, the National Secretariat of the NUJ had directed the suspension of all union activities, but we are in awe as to why those that are supposed to be informed are bereft of simple instructions from the National body of NUJ.”
A copy of the letter conveying the suspension of the three members was, however, said to have been addressed to the state chapter of NUJ and copied to President of the Union as well as the Vice President, Zone E.
When contacted to speak on the controversy in the Correspondents Chapel, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Taraba state Council, Jovita Shafe, said the matter was before the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee of the Union pending the outcome of its discussion.
He further said both sides had submitted statements to the committee and would be considered by the committee.
“They will appear before the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee as provided by the constitution. Article 7 of the constitution says, if there is any complain for any reason, it will be taken to the Disciplinary Committee and after exhaustive discussion, the outcome would be brought back to the Council. In the event it cannot be resolved, then we can go to the SEC, then subsequently to Congress.
“But in the meantime, the status quo remains pending the outcome of the meeting by the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee”, he disclosed.