Breaking: Court stops NUJ delegates conference, restrains Credentials Committee, others
*As Ebonyi Commissioner Charges Journalists On Professionalism
Ebonyi Commissioner Charges Journalists On Professionalism
The National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Lagos has stopped the 7th Triennial National Delegates Conference of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) scheduled to hold from October 3 to 5, 2021 in Umuahia, Abia State.
The court ruled on a motion ex-parte filed by Soji Amosu and Ayokunle Ewuoso, the Chairman and Secretary of Ogun State Council of NUJ respectively.
The court also restrained members of the Credentials Committee of the Union and other respondents from performing, aiding or executing any act for the purposes of conducting any election into the national offices of the NUJ pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.
The court further restrained the respondents and their agents from interfering with the offices of the applicants.
The presiding judge, Justice I. G. Nweneka, who delivered the verdict on August 27, 2021, however, adjourned hearing into the matter to September 13, 2021.
The respondents in the suit marked NICN/LA/310/2021 include Mr Garuba Muhammed (Chairman, Credentials Committee), Mr Victor Ndukwe (Secretary, Credentials Committee), Mr Ladi Bala, Mr Yisa Zuni, Mr Leke Adegbite, Mr Kenneth Offerman, Mr Emman Ogbeuwe, Mr Emmanuel Ibrahim and Mr Victor Udu.
Other respondents are the NUJ, Mr Chris Isiguzo (NUJ President), Mr Shuaib Usman Leman (NUJ National Secretary), National Executive Council (NEC) of the Union, Mr Wale Oluokun and Credentials Committee.
A copy of the court ruling obtained on Thursday by our correspondent showed that the applicants’ motion was brought pursuant to Order 22 Rules (1) and (2) of the National Industrial Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2017 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the Honourable court.
The application was supported by a 36-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Soji Amosu, the first applicant.
The applicants had sought three prayers from the court. They relied on all the deposition in the affidavit in support as well as Exhibits A to J together with the written address containing the applicants legal submissions in urging the court to grant the interim injunction.
The reliefs included “an Order of interim injunction restraining the 1st to 10th Respondents jointly and severally by themselves, their agents servants, privies, officers or any person however described from performing, aiding and or executing any act for the purposes of conducting any election into the National Offices of the 10th Respondents, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.
“An Order of this Honourable Court granting an interim injunction restraining the Respondents jointly and severally, their privies, servants or agents from interfering with the offices of the Chairman and Secretary of the Ogun State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, presently being occupied by the Applicants as recognized by the judgment of this court delivered by Honorable Justice J.D Peters, attached as Exihibit A in the affidavit in support of this application, as it related the National Delegates Conference of the 10th Respondents coming up between the 3rd to 5th of October, 2021, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice already filed in this suit.
“An Order of the Honourable Court directing maintenance of the status quo and suspension of all actions, proceedings, steps, processes relating to the National Delegates Conference of the 10th Respondents fixed to come up between the 3rd to 5th of October, 2021, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice already filed in this suit.”
Upon hearing the motion ex-parte filed by Shileola Agunbiade Esq, counsel to the applicants, the judge thereafter ordered as prayed.
“The interim order shall subsist for 14 days. This motion on notice dated 23/8/2021 is adjourned to Monday 13/9/2021 for hearing before the next vacation judge,” Justice Nweneka ruled.
It will be recalled that the National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Ibadan on February 24, this year, affirmed the election of Comrade Soji Amosu as the duly elected Chairman of Ogun NUJ.
The court, in suit number NICN/IB/85/2019, also affirmed the election of Comrades Kunle Olayeni, Kunle Ewuoso and Abiodun Taiwo as validly elected Vice Chairman, Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the union respectively.
The court held that the purported annulment of the March 29, 2019 election which brought the claimants into office was illegal and against the NUJ constitution.
It also granted seven of the eight reliefs sought by the applicants and awarded a cost of N200,000 against the respondents.
Amosu and three others had dragged the NUJ President, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, the NUJ National Secretary, Comrade Shuaib Leman, and 12 other defendants, challenging the purported decision of the union’s national leadership to nullify the election of the claimants.
Ebonyi Commissioner Charges Journalists On Professionalism
In another development, Ebonyi State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Conatus Njoku, has charged Journalists to be guided by the ethics of the profession in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities.
Njoku who gave the charge to the newly elected executive of the Correspondents’ Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ebonyi State, who led members of the Chapel, on a courtesy call to the Commissioner, in his office in Abakaliki, said Journalists should strive at all times to verify information they got before making it public.
“Without the press, there is no way the activities of government would be reported. We need you in order to serve our people better. The only charge I want to give to the new executive of the Chapel is to ensure that you are guided by the ethics of the profession.
“Many a times, we see people reporting unconfirmed matters. Take for instance, sometimes, we attend meetings, where some issues are discussed, but when you are reading it on newspapers and other media platforms, you will be hearing a different thing. And you will be forced to ask yourself, was it not the meeting you attended and was part of?
“Though, Journalists must not be in a every function, but at least, if you got any information, you need to verify it, so that you do not misrepresent the government or give the public false information,” he said.
The Commissioner, however, commended the members of the Correspondents’ Chapel for their role in projecting the image of the State in a good light, and urged them to keep it up, even as he noted that constructive criticism is welcomed by the government.
“I know most of you and I know what you can do, and I know you are professionals. And you have been projecting the image of the State in a good light. We want this to continue. We also welcome objective criticism, because it will help the government to sit up.”
Mr Njoku while assuring the members of the Chapel of the partnership and cooperation of his Ministry, pointed out that the local government areas and communities in the State were underreported, and urged them to redouble their efforts.
“As per the Ministry, I assure you of our fullest cooperation. I always tell people that the activities of this government in the local government areas and communities are underreported. A situation where it is only the ones that happen in the capital city is captured, I think you should look into it and see how the activities in the local government areas and communities can be covered. This is very important because people want to know what is happening in every part of this State,” the Commissioner concluded.
Earlier, the Chairman of Correspondents’ Chapel, Comrade Nwafor Samson, assured Mr Njoku that the Chapel under his leadership would redouble its cooperation and partnership with the Ministry for the growth and development of Ebonyi State.