Obaseki, journalists disagree over annexation of Edo NUJ press centre
Journalists have expressed fears over plans by Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, to demolish and take over the press centre of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), in the state.
The secretariat complex located in the heart of the city was built in the early 70s by the late military Governor of the defunct Mid-West/Bendel State, Brig.-Gen. Samuel Ogbemudia, named the building after Benin monarch, Oba Oguola who reigned in about 1280 AD.
The press centre built on an expanse of land donated to the NUJ, Edo State council by the late Oba Akenzua, is at No. 1, Gabriel Igbinedion Road, Government Reservation Area (G.R.A) a few metres away from the Government House.
It was gathered that Obaseki is seeking to use the parcel of land to build Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA), to house stolen artifacts that would be returned to the Benin kingdom from Europe.
It was also learnt that expatriates handling the EMOWAA project had been paying unscheduled visits to the press centre, apparently for site inspection, with the demolition likely to commence soon.
The Director of Lands, Edo State Geographic Information Service (EDOGIS), Mrs. Lydia Igbinigie, had earlier written to Edo State Chairman of NUJ, Festus Alenkhe, on the land, while the Managing Director of EDOGIS, Mrs. Osaro Aihie, appointed by Obaseki about three months ago, also called Alenkhe on the matter.
Emissaries comprising former chairmen of the NUJ met with the Secretary to Edo State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie last Friday over the land, with a member of the executive of the state’s NUJ disclosing that Ogie said that he was not aware of the land tussle and planned demolition.
The Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, declined comment on the issue.
The President of NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, when contacted for his reaction, said, “Please, ask Edo State Chairman of NUJ. I earlier told Festus Alenkhe what to do.”
Alenkhe, who is bereaved, assured that the directive of the union’s national president on the land would be strictly adhered to.