The inordinate ambition of the national secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to foist its preferred candidate on Lagos journalists during the during the triennial delegate election on Thursday November 5, 2020 at the premises of Lagos State Television (LTV 8), caused the abrupt postponement of the election, the Source Media can authoritatively report.
It was learnt that attempt by the national secretariat to perfect the plan through the disenfranchisement of some Chapels from the election was vehemently resisted by them, leading to commotion and near collapse of peace at the venue.
Our correspondent who witness the scenario reports that the National Officers of the NUJ led by the Vice President of B Zone, Mr Cosmos Oni and Zonal Secretary Mr Michael Gbolagunte, who had combined to rig the election in favour of their preferred candidate, hurriedly postponed the election in conjunction with the security teams on ground to avoid casualties.
Contrary to report by an online medium that the election was hijacked and halted by some identified journalists which include Mary Fatile of Radio Nigeria, Abolore Abdulramon of Voice of Nigeria, Alade Tasma, Kayode Sutton, Tajudeen Owolabi, Kayode Muse, Sulaon Ajayi and Alabi Fatai of Lagos Information, accompanied by hoodlums, the election as announced by Debo Adeniji the credentials committee chairman was halted due to unfavorable security report.
Available fact on ground also indicated that the Debo Adeniji led credentials committee has shown bias by alligning with the newly employed Assistant National Secretary Rauph Korede Opeyemi deployed from Abuja to perfect the rigging.
Many journalists expressed displeasure at the script that was attempted to be foist on the Lagos journalists by some members of the state executive of the NUJ comprising Abiola Becky, the Vice Chairman, Alfred Odifa, secretary, Iyabo Ogunjuyigbe, Treasurer, Assistant Secretary, Philip Nwosu, supported by the national secretariat had all failed in the earlier whom had earlier failed in their attempt to discredit and remove the incumbent chairman, Dr Qasim Akinreti.
The poll has been generating heat following the unrepentant stand of the interested parties to disfranchise over 3000 journalists and bonafide members of the union who duly paid their check-off due and other fees as stated in the union constitution prompting Chief Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) to warn the leadership of the union to obey the union rules or face court action on November 3 in a letter addressed to the NUJ President.
Prior to the poll, the elders of the council had also appealed to Isiguzo to play by the rules in accordance with the union constitution.
The affected media houses and chapels where the affected journalists were drawn from are The Nation Newspapers, The New Telegraph, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Voice of Nigeria, The Guardian Newspapers, Powerful Pen, Business Plus Magazine, Local Government Chapel, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and others.
Mid-way to the congress of the union, the atmosphere was charged when Mr Opeyemi Akorede, a former clerical staff of the Lagos NUJ in charge of the admin who was recently appointed as Assistant National Secretary of NUJ led a team of bouncers accompanied by armed security operatives to order the commencement of the poll in total disregard to the rules of the union as the congress was yet to be concluded.
To the surprise of many anxious journalists, Korede working hand in hand with Debo Adeniji, the chairman of the Credentials Committee ordered the commencement of the poll and horridly ushered in some journalists from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) where the Mr Adeleye Ajayi, the preferred chairmanship candidate of Isiguzo and his allies from Vanguard newspapers, all were given cover to vote.
The situation almost degenerated into a fiasco between the supporters of the incumbent chairman of the Lagos NUJ, Dr Qasim Akinreti and Adeleye but for the spirited efforts of the some police officers and men from the Department of State Service (DSS) who discountenanced the notion that the poll was valid as the team were holding peace meeting with the Lagos State NUJ excos, national officers and others who were not part of the voting exercise horridly ordered by Korede.
Minutes after deliberations were concluded with security, Mr Cosmos Oni announced that the voting exercise ordered by Korede was of no effect as none of the national officers were aware of its commencement because the atmosphere was not conducive for election.
Cosmos left the meeting and ordered the purported voting be stopped however late Thursday evening, Cosmos later announced the dissolution of the Lagos NUJ exco and composition of a caretaker committee headed by Wale Akodu of Lagos Information Ministry put together after a virtual meeting with less than one third of members of the State Executive Committee (SEC) in the state.
However reactions have been trailing the actions as Dr Qasim Akinreti supporters insisted that the due process was not followed as the exco was yet to be formally dissolved by the congress to warrant any vacuum of leadership.
Akinreti in a statement issued said his mandate as the chairman of the council remained intact while Adeleye’s camp were jubilating that the caretaker team who were all his loyalists had taken over.