The Rivers State council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, has postponed its elections indefinitely, following the outbreak of pandemonium, which truncated the exercise, during the 7th Triennial Delegates Conference in Port Harcourt, on Thursday, August 12, 2021.
The election, which had earlier been shifted from August 5 to August 12 by the National Secretariat, led by NUJ President, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, on grounds of unresolved petitions by entrenched interests within the Rivers State Council, was expected to produce new executives for the NUJ in Rivers state.
Eye witness accounts, photographs and short videos, posted on verified social media handles, by excited Journalists who had converged at the NUJ Ernest Ikoli Press Centre, on Moscow Road, Port Harcourt, confirmed that the election process had already commenced, with the dissolution of the incumbent Exco and was reportedly proceeding smoothly and peacefully, when all hell was let loose, purportedly aggravated by a controversy over the authentic delegates list of eligible members to participate in the exercise.
The disagreement between the interests reportedly snowballed into an uncontrollable fracas, which led to the total breakdown of orderliness, calculated violent acts and the disruption of the entire process, with chairs, desks and materials already prepared and arranged for the election, scattered all over the place amidst shouting exchanges and neat fisticuffs between loyalists of the divergent camps.
It had to take the intervention of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, CP Friday Eboka and his men who had been officially invited to provide security at the venue and had arrived fully armed and dressed in uncompromising combat gear, complete with helmets, rifles and camouflages, to quell the upheaval and direct the Journalists to leave the hall and step outside the gate, after which the Press Centre was reportedly placed under temporary lock and key by the Police, with a purported stern warning that the building was off limits to everybody, especially the Journalists, till further notice.
Following an emergency damage control meeting mid-wifed by the Rivers State Police Commissioner CP Friday Eboka, with selected State and Zonal stakeholders of the NUJ, in his office, a communique was later issued by the Credentials committee led by Comrade Victor Tew, which disclosed that the National leadership of the NUJ, has directed that the “status quo ante” before the dissolution of the current Rivers NUJ exco, led by Comrade Stanley Job, be maintained.
The statement, which noted that the South South Zonal President of the NUJ, Comrade Edward Akpati Ogude, who had earlier dissolved the exco was not mandated by the National President Chris Isiguzo to do so, declared that all the actions taken by him during 7th Triennial Delegate Conference are null and void.
The statement then concluded that the credentials committee is expected to liaise with the National leadership of the NUJ, to resolve all the contending issues in the state council before a new date for the election would be fixed. See the full text of the Communique below:
RESOLUTIONS REACHED BY ALL PARTIES AT A MEETING WITH THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, RIVERS STATE POLICE COMMAND, CP EBOKA FRIDAY IN HIS OFFICE AT THE RIVERS STATE POLICE COMMAND HEADQUARTERS, MOSCOW ROAD, PORT HARCOURT ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 12, 2021.
Following the intervention of the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, CP Eboka Friday, in the stalemated 7 Triennial Delegates Conference of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Council which held on Thursday, August 12, 2021 at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre and the need to ensure that peace and tranquility prevail in the union and Rivers State at large, all parties involved in the stalemated election resolved as follows:
- That since the National President, Chris Isiguzo told CP Eboka Friday in a telephone conversation that the Zonal Vice President, Edward Ogude was not mandated by him to conduct the election and or take any other step, all actions purportedly taken by him, including the purported dissolution of the executive during the Triennial Delegates Conference remain null and void.
- That the status quo ante before the purported dissolution of the State Working Committee (SWC) executive led by Stanley Job Stanley as chairman and Ike Wigodo as secretary be and is hereby maintained.
- That the Credentials Committee led by Mr. Victor Tew should fix a new date for the election and liaise with the national secretariat for the conduct of a peaceful and transparent election.
- That all contending issues surrounding the delegates list be resolved before the election.
In attendance at the meeting were:
Zonal Vice President of NUJ Zone F, Edward Ogude;
The Zonal Secretary Zone F. Bassey Eyo, Ph.D;
NUJ Chairman, Rivers Council, Stanley Job Stanley;
Secretary, Ike Wigodo;
Vice Chairman, Paul Bazia;
Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) chairman in Rivers State, Susan Serekara-Nwikhana;
Credentials Committee Chairman, Victor Tew;
The Tide Chapel Chairman, Amadi Akujobi and
The Editor of Independent Monitor Newspaper, Olalekan ige.
Dated this day, Thursday, August 12, 2021.
The Commissioner of Police Rivers State Police Command
The State Director
The National Secretary NUJ
The Zonal Vice President