The Benue state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, has announced its rejection of alleged imposition of a caretaker committee, describing it as unacceptable.

This is contained in a communique issued after its congress meeting and signed by the chairman and secretary of the drafting committee, Tor Vande-Acka, and Victor Bajah.

According to communique, the imposition was totally at variance with the provisions of the union’s constitution as well as the directive of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, which sat in Makurdi.

“The State Executive Council (SEC) of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Benue State Council, made up of all Chairmen and Secretaries of Chapels in the Council met on Friday, February 11, 2022 by invoking Article 5, Section D, Sub (7) (a&b) to hold an Emergency Congress.

“After a critical evaluation of the state of affairs of the Union in Benue State and the general wellbeing of members of the Union, SEC resolved to urgently address some of the major issues in order to forestall a total degeneration of the sorry state of affairs being experienced in the Union presently.

“That the Benue State Council of the NUJ is in dire state of despair and disrepair.

“That the alleged imposition of a Caretaker Committee of the NUJ, Benue State Council was totally illegal, null and void as well as totally at variance with the provisions of the Constitution of the NUJ and the directive of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Makurdi.

“That since the imposition of the Caretaker Committee contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of the Union, the illegal body acted completely in gross violations of known rules and laws as enshrined in the NUJ Constitution. One of such is its refusal to call for the constitutionally enshrined Monthly Congress of the NUJ where decisions are reached for implementation by an Executive Committee. Such a deliberate violation is contrary to Article 5, Section D, (7) (a&b) of the NUJ Constitution.

“SEC particularly frowned at the abuse of power by an illegally constituted committee allegedly led by one Steve Ijoh which unconstitutionally announced the dissolution of an elected Executive Committee of the Voice Newspaper Chapel and even went ahead to drag the Chapel Chairman to the Police without recourse to the organs of the Union,” the Communique stated.

According to Communique, the NUJ Benue Council is one out of the 37 State Councils of the NUJ and does not and cannot operate or function in isolation. The actions of Steve Ijoh are clearly anti-Union activities.

“It is curious and difficult to understand where an illegal caretaker derive such powers from, as it totally lacks the power whatsoever and in any material particular to embark on such a voyage.

“SEC is particularly embarrassed and taken aback with so much pain of how an illegal caretaker frequently harasses and demands money from the management of the Union’s schools and therefore stressed the urgent need to save the schools from imminent collapse.

“SEC noted with dismay the non-payment of salaries of Staff of the Union for about five months owing to the abuse of financial processes, procedures and maladministration being perpetrated by the illegal caretaker committee that is anything but transparent in its financial dealings.

“SEC expressed concern that the directive for the composition of the Caretaker Committee was not adhered to as required by the NUJ constitution particularly as prescribed in Article 5, sub(c), section 9 sub (c) which states inter alia; “where there is a stalemate in the election at the National Delegates’ Conference, the State Chairmen and Secretaries shall takeover and run the affairs of the Union and conduct fresh elections within three months. Same shall apply in the case of a stalemate in the State Council where Chapel Chairmen and Secretaries shall perform the same functions.”

The Communique stated that it is in line with the quoted Constitutional provisions, that SEC resolved as follows; “The immediate sack of the 5-member Caretaker Committee, led by Steve Ijoh who were illegally selected without adherence and in keeping to the provisions of the NUJ Constitution.

“This is in addition to the fact that some of the illegal committee members have never held any position at the chapel level to qualify them for Council positions. Certainly, an illegality of this magnitude cannot be allowed to subsist as it constitutes an aberration and is totally alien to the NUJ.

“Therefore, SEC which is vested with the powers by the NUJ Constitution to constitute a Caretaker Committee has accordingly appointed from among its duly elected members, five bona fide officials to man the affairs of the Benue Council of the NUJ pending the determination of the matter before the Court.

“The new members of the Caretaker Committee are:

“i. Jerry Tyosase – Oracle Chapel, Chairman

“ii. John Shiaondo – Correspondent Chapel, Secretary

“iii. Grace Ichakpa – NTA Chapel, Member

“iv. Paul Otumala – The Prime Chapel, Member

“v. Irene Onehi – Federal Information Chapel, Member,” it stated.

According to the Communique, SEC accordingly directed the new Caretaker Committee to as a matter of urgency write the Banks in which Union accounts are domiciled as well as management of NUJ schools to forthwith, discontinue any form of transaction(s) with the illegal but now disbanded Caretaker Committee.

“SEC urged the new Caretaker Committee to address the issue of non-payment of salaries of staff of the Union to enable them continue to render needed services in the overall benefit and interest of all.

“SEC appeals to members of the public for their kind understanding and cooperation while it strive to recover the structures of the NUJ from some meddlesome interlopers,” the Communique stressed

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