By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The newly elected executives of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Correspondents’ Chapel of Abuja, on Monday, petitioned the national secretariat of the union over an “unlawful nullification of elections” of the chapel by the FCT Council.
At the elections conducted on Saturday 20th, October 2018, a staff of Daily Post, Yemi Itodo emerged as new Chairman of NUJ Correspondents’ Chapel, while Collins Ajibola of Kiss FM emerged as his deputy.
Mr. Rapheal Oni of Diplomat Magazine was elected as Secretary, Lesley Otu of the SOURCE was returned as Treasurer while Samson Adebayo of ONTV emerged the Auditor.
But several hours after the result was announced, Mr. Primus Khaloba, acting Chairman of FCT Council nullified the election, saying there was a petition from “some aggrieved members”.
In a 4-page emotion-worded petition signed by Yemi Itodo and Rapheal Oni, on behalf of the new exco, the petitioners want the national secretariat to urgently intervene and salvage the image of the profession.
“That the said pronouncement of the Acting Chairman of FCT Council to nullify our election, without any ground was illegal, unprofessional and an affront on the noble profession;
“That the various evidences of the election and announcement of result, which are in the public domain, including the Civil Society Organisations, the security agencies and probably the international community, were enough reason for anyone not to scuttle our mandate, as that would bring our noble profession to public opprobrium;
“That, even the purported petition submitted to the council, we were not availed the opportunity of reading, not to talk of responding to.The credential committee was not even allowed to talk at the congress, neither was any of us given the opportunity of fair hearing. No appeal panel was set up to look into whatever issues raised through the said petition. As we speak, no one, except the writer and the recipient know the content of the “ghost” petition”, the new exco said.
They also accused one Jide Oyekunle, a photographer with Daily Independent, Henry Umoru of Vanguard Newspaper and Uju Ijeye of AIT, of mobilising to disrupt the election “but were resisted by the Nigeria Police who were on ground to monitor the process”.
The petitioners tendered in evidence, a CD tape containing video clips of all that transpired on Saturday, while praying that those who attempted to snatch ballot papers and box be santioned, “to serve as deterrent to others who think they can win elections through violence”.
Itodo and his exco also prayed the national secretariat to uphold their elections and proceed to inaugurate them, “having emerged through a validly conducted election on Saturday and as such stood declared and returned”, adding that, “the FCT Council be quickly called to order, to stay further action on the proposed elections of Saturday, 27th October, 2018, as our election cannot be said to be inconclusive”.
Responding, National Secretary of NUJ, Comrade Shaibu Liman, thanked the new exco for not taking laws into their hands but rather followed the procedures provided by the constitution of the union.
“Let me commend you for taking the appropriate steps in expressing your grievances rather than taking the law into your hands or causing disaffection.
“Let me assure you also that the National Secretariat will look into your petition. I have a meeting tomorrow with the FCT Council, I will also get their own version of what happened and I assure you that the constitution of the union will be followed strictly and what is right will certainly be done.
“I urge you to maintain calm, as you did up till this point and reassure your members that you have presented the case before us as we are looking into it. I thank you for coming and definitely, we shall get back to you”, Liman added.