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Despite court’s decision on delegates’ conference, NUJ goes ahead with screening

By Saxone Akhaine, Kaduna
07 September 2021   |   3:02 am
Despite injunction by the National Industrial Court of Nigeria stopping the seventh Triennial National Delegates Conference scheduled to hold between October 3 and 5

National Industrial Court

Despite injunction by the National Industrial Court of Nigeria stopping the seventh Triennial National Delegates Conference scheduled to hold between October 3 and 5, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) may have allowed those interested in contesting at the conference in Abia State to continue with their preparation.

The court had, in a motion ex parte filed by Soji Amosu and Ayokunle Ewuoso, Chairman and Secretary respectively, Ogun State Council of NUJ, ordered a halt to all processes leading to the conference.

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 the 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 the credentials committee.

A copy of the court ruling obtained by The Guardian 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 agent’s 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 Exhibit 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.”

But last week Friday, in apparent disobedience to the court order, Garba Mohammad and Victor Ndukwe, Chairman and Secretary of the Credentials Committee, issued a circular to all councils of the union, directing them to submit delegates’ list to its committee. The NUJ Constitution states that such delegates’ lists should be forwarded to the National Secretary of the Union. In the circular, the Credentials Committee ordered:

“The 2021 NUJ National Credentials Committee is by this notice reminding all concern of our letter to councils earlier, with the title “SUBMISSION OF 2021DELEGATES LIST OF COUNCILS” and dated August 10, 2021. (Attached is the said letter for reference purposes).

“Councils are to strictly ensure that the hard copies of the list addressed to the National Secretary get to the National Secretariat not later than the September 13, deadline while the soft copies are forwarded.

“Neither the National Secretariat nor the Credentials Committee will be held responsible for any list not submitted at the expiration of the deadline and to the appropriate quarters.”