Over one thousand Journalists have rejected the voter list doctored by some members of the executive of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council for council’s election slated for September 29, 2020.
At a press conference addressed in Lagos on Wednesday, thousand of journalists led by Fabian Anawo, the Director General of Dr Qasim Akinreti’s chairmanship campaign organization also lamented the total disregard for the union constitution by the leadership of the union in Abuja and cautioned on the attempted to manipulate the process.
Among other things he said the Chapel lists sent to State Council for the election had been doctored by some members of the Exco who are also contestants.
“These Exco members include the Vice Chairman, Biola Beckley; the Secretary, Alfred Adebayo Odifa and the Assistant Secretary, Philip Nwosu.
“There is nowhere in the world where contestants in an election are given access to manipulate vital election documents like voters’ list. It is an aberration.
“We hereby state unequivocally that the Credentials Committee has been compromised and can no longer be trusted to be an unbiased umpire. We are therefore calling for a total cancellation of the so-called verification exercise because the process has been compromised.
“What the Credentials Committee can do to remedy the situation is to direct Chapel Excos to submit a new list for accreditation and voting.”
Full detail of the press conference speech is below.
ADDRESS BY THE DIRECTOR GENERAL OF DR. QASIM AKINRETI CAMPAIGN ORGANISATION, MR. FABIAN ANAWO, ON WEDNESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020 ON THE FORTHCOMING LAGOS NUJ ELECTION
- LAGOS COUNCIL ELECTION 2020.
We are here to alert the public of plans by some people to derail the electoral process of the Lagos NUJ.
These people include some people in the National Secretariat of our union in Abuja and their collaborators in Lagos.
Part of the plan is to manipulate the electoral process to the point that Journalists will protest and the National Secretariat will cash in on the protest to install a Caretaker Committee, which is alien to the Constitution of our Union.
Let it be noted that we will resist every attempt to impose an illegal caretaker committee on us in Lagos.
It may interest us to note that the National leadership of our Union no longer have respect for the Constitution. If it does, it will not install a Caretaker Committee in Ogun and Delta State councils. If it does, it will not clear people who do not posses the required certificates to contest election in Lagos Council.
We are aware of the ploy to hide under the proposed nationwide strike called by the NLC and TUC, to postpone the Lagos NUJ election indefinitely and install a Caretaker Committe in Lagos.
We hereby warned that Lagos journalists will resist any such attempt.
In the event that the election could not hold, under any guise, rather than putting in place an illegal Caretaker Committee, the tenure of the present EXCO should be extended in line with the doctrine of necessity as is the case with NAWOJ.
1(a). PETITIONS ON THE ELECTION.
Several pettions on the election have been sent to the National Secretariat in the last two weeks and it has refused to address issues that were raised.
There was a petition demanding that the credentials which the National Secretariat relied upon to clear the contestants be published in line with Article 6(2). Till date, the National Secretariat has not done so because they cleared one or more persons who are not qualified to contest.
The Credentials Committee has not published the list of members from chapels who will vote in the election. This is in total disregard to the Constitution and established convention.
The purpose of publishing the documents, ie certificates and Chapel lists is for members to make claims and objections, correct spelling errors in names that could lead to members not being allowed to vote and for members whose names may be missing on the list to have them included before election.
1(b). VERIFICATION OF VOTERS LIST.
Chapel lists that were sent to State Council for the election have been doctored by some members of Exco who are also contestants. These Exco members include the Vice Chairman, Biola Beckley; the Secretary, Alfred Adebayo Odifa and the Assistant Secretary, Philip Nwosu.
There is nowhere in the world where contestants in an election are given access to manipulate vital election documents like voters’ list. It is an aberration.
We hereby state unequivocally that the Credentials Committee has been compromised and can no longer be trusted to be an unbiased umpire.
We are therefore calling for a total cancellation of the so-called verification exercise because the process has been compromised. What the Credentials Committee can do to remedy the situation is to direct Chapel Excos to submit a new list for accreditation and voting.
The voters list that has been compromised by some Exco members who are contestants in the election have been Christened Accreditation list. All over the world accreditation of voters are done on election day after which accredited voters will cast their votes. So, why is accreditation of the Lagos Council election being done weeks before the election? The Credentials Committee and the Exco members listed above said that they were acting on the instructions of the National Secretariat. We demand an explanation from the National Secretariat.
- BIOMETRIC ID CARDS.
The idea of biometric Identity Cards for Journalists is a welcome one. It will enable the Union to have a good data base of members. The purpose of biometric card is not for election. Its use for election is an aberration. The Constitution of the NUJ does not recognise biometric card but it is good to know the number of those on the register. If the National Secretariat wants to be using it for election, it should call for a constitutional review and insert it in the Constitution. To be asking Journalists to pay N5000 during election time for biometrics before they can vote is suspect.
To even make such demand during this economic downturn occasioned by Covid-19 indicates that the National Secretariat does not care about the plights of Journalists at this auspicious time.
At a time when the National Secretariat could not provide any form of palliative to members who have not earned salaries for months and in some cases years and is asking such members to pay money for biometrics before they can vote leaves much to be desired. We are of the opinion that office identity cards should suffice for this election.
It will interest you to know that about one thousand Journalists in Lagos have signed written petitions to the NUJ protesting the use of biometric card for the election. Biometric card was introduced in 2017 and to get the buy in of Journalists it was made compulsory in the election. Another reason it was made compulsory in the election of 2017 was because the then Exco intended to use it to rig for a preferred candidate. But in spite of all that Lagos Journalists made their choice in preference of Dr. Qasim Akinreti. One year after it was used in Lagos, it was not used in the election that brought the incumbent President of the Union, Chris Isiguzo to office in 2018.
- SECURITY AGENCIES
We are not taking anything to chances. We will put security agencies on notice over the evil plot of the National leadership of the NUJ to create chaos and install an illegal Caretaker Committee. We will not fold our arms and allow anybody to plunge Lagos NUJ into crises. That is why we are notifying the security agencies to nip the plan in the bud.