Several drama ensured on Thursday November 5, 2020 at the premises of Lagos State Television (LTV 8) as the election into the elective seats of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State was abruptly put off by the National Officials of the NUJ led by the Vice President of B Zone, Mr Cosmos Oni and Zonal Secretary Mr Michael Gbolagunte in conjunction with the security teams on ground to avoid casualties as tension rose to pinnacle height.
Many journalists expressed displeasure at the script that was attempted to be foisted on the Lagos journalists by some members of the state executive of the NUJ comprising Abiola Becky, the Vice Chairman, Alfred Odifa, secretary, Iyabo Ogunjuyigbe, Treasurer, Assistant Secretary, Philip Nwosu, supported by the national secretariat had all failed in the earlier whom had earlier failed in their attempt to discredit and remove the incumbent chairman, Dr Qasim Akinreti
The poll has been generating heat following the unrepentant stand of the interested parties to disfranchise over 3000 journalists and bonafide members of the union who duly paid their check-off due and other fees as stated in the union constitution prompting Chief Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) to warn the leadership of the union to obey the union rules or face court action on November 3 in a letter addressed to the NUJ President.
Prior to the poll, the elders of the council had also appealed to Isiguzo to play by the rules in accordance with the union constitution.
The affected media houses and chapels where the affected journalists were drawn from The Nation Newspapers, The New Telegraph, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Voice of Nigeria, The Guardian Newspapers, Powerful Pen, Business Plus Magazine, Local Government Chapel, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and others.
Mid-way to the congress of the union, the atmosphere was charged when Mr Opeyemi Akorede, a former clerical staff of the Lagos NUJ in charge of the admin who was recently appointed as Assistant National Secretary of NUJ led a team of bouncers accompanied by armed security operatives to order the commencement of the poll in total disregard to the rules of the union as the congress was yet to be concluded.
To the surprise of many anxious journalists, Korede working hand in hand with Debo Adeniji, the chairman of the Credentials Committee ordered the commencement of the poll and horridly ushered in some journalists from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) where the Mr Adeleye Ajayi, the preferred chairmanship candidate of Isiguzo and his allies from Vanguard newspapers, all were given cover to vote.
The situation almost degenerated into a fiasco between the supporters of the incumbent chairman of the Lagos NUJ, Dr Qasim Akinreti and Adeleye but for the spirited efforts of the some police officers and men from the Department of State Service (DSS) who discountenanced the notion that the poll was valid as the team were holding peace meeting with the Lagos State NUJ excos, national officials and others who were not part of the voting exercise horridly ordered by Korede.
Minutes after deliberations were concluded with security, Mr Cosmos Oni announced that the voting exercise ordered by Korede was of no effect as none of the national officers were aware of its commencement because the atmosphere was not conducive for election.
Cosmos left the meeting and ordered the purported voting be stopped however late Thursday evening, Cosmos later announced the dissolution of the Lagos NUJ exco and composition of a caretaker committee headed by Wale Akodu of Lagos Information Ministry put together after a virtual meeting with less than one third of members of the State Executive Committee (SEC) in the state.
However reactions have been trailing the actions as Dr Qasim Akinreti supporters insisted that the due process was not followed as the exco was yet to be formally dissolved by the congress to warrant any vacuum of leadership.
Akinreti in a statement issued said his mandate as the chairman of the council remained intact while Adeleye’s camp were jubilating that the caretaker team who were all his loyalists had taken over.