Mr. Chris Isiguzo.
Mr. Waheed Odushile
By Timothy Elerewe
The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, which had hitherto been known for its peaceful co-existence, is currently embroiled in a crisis of monumental proportion on account of the move by its erstwhile president, Mr. Waheed Odushile, to unseat the incumbent president, Mr. Chris Isiguzo.
It would be recalled that the triennial delegates conference held in September 2018 in Abeokuta, Ogun State to elect officers into the leadership of the NUJ was won by Isiguzo and this did not go down well with Odushile who came second.
This development has sparked off some controversies in the union as Odushile has gone to challenge his loss at the National Industrial Court, Abuja.
In a writ of summons filed with one Ngozi Agbo, a member of Information Chapel, Enugu for which a date for hearing has not been fixed, Mr. Odusile is praying the court to nullify the election of Mr. Isiguzo on the ground that he (Isiguzo) allegedly falsified his credentials in order to qualify for the election.
Interestingly, a similar case filed by the vice president of NUJ Zone C, Mr Petrus Obi is on-going in the same court in Enugu division seeking the nullification of the victory of Isiguzo at the poll.
Prior to the election, several attempts were made to disqualify Isiguzo who was perceived to command overwhelming support from members of the union across the country.
Contrary to the tradition in NUJ, National WAVES learnt that Odusile who sought re-election for a second term in office as NUJ president, was given the privilege to single-handedly nominate all the seven- member Credential/Elections Committee set up at the delayed NEC meeting in Sokoto in July last year, three months after the expiration of his tenure.
Before the committee was set up, speculations were rife that Isiguzo would be disqualified because of an alleged falsification of a HND certificate. But he proved critics wrong as he was cleared or the election.
Isiguzo who was the immediate past Vice President, Zone C has never at any time, claimed to bag HND and this has also not reflected in any of his forms filled to contest any election in NUJ. He has always filled ND in Mass Communications from the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State.
Sources close to the incumbent president revealed that based on his ND credentials filled in his election form, he was cleared to contest for the election in Abeokuta
Similarly, the national secretariat of NUJ, Mabushi – Abuja was burgled two weeks to the election while the National Secretary, Mr Shuaibu Leman was away attending union meeting in Ghana ostensibly looking for candidates’ credentials at the national secretary’s custody. Curiously, no action was taken to investigate the matter beyond the secretariat level.
Waheed and Isiguzo worked together in ThisDay newspaper before Waheed joined the Nation newspaper. Isiguzo is currently on sabbatical leave as Thisday correspondent in Enugu on account of emerging NUJ president.
A drama played out on the eve of the NUJ election in Abeokuta last year; the management of ThisDay suddenly sacked Isiguzo with no reason given without the knowledge of the paper’s chairman, Mr Nduka Obaigbena who instantly quashed the sack. The union’s credential which was already sitting in Abeokuta came under intense pressure to disqualify Isiguzo. But Leman, the national secretary, advised against such action as according to him, it would be against the union’s constitution which allows any member in such a situation to be protected for at least six months.
The election was held and Isiguzo won with a very wide margin. However, Petrus Obi who also won as the VP zone C, representing South East in the same election, decided to head to court to challenge Isiguzo’s victory on behalf of Waheed but he was faced with the task of gathering evidence against Isiguzo’s victory.
Recall that he was alleged to have started the campaign of calumny against the person of Isiguzo even before the election processes began.
Obi who is believed to have personal grudges against Isiguzo, wrote a letter to the Federal Polytechnic, Oko in his official capacity as the VP Zone C asking the institution to furnish him the academic details of Mr Isiguzo.
Obi wanted to know whether the notification of result presented by Isiguzo to contest the NUJ election emanated from the school.
Part of the letter reads: “The NUJ South East Zone C of which he (Isiguzo) belongs as a member is desirous of investigating the said certificate and hereby attaches the already submitted notification of result for your confirmation and certification (see the notification of result as attached)”
In a swift response, the Office of the Registrar, Federal Polytechnic, Oko sent a reply entitled: “Confirmation of Notification of Result in Respect of one Mr Chris Isiguzo
Ikechukwu” which states: “We refer to your letter dated 20th July, 2019 and write to confirm that the National Diploma Notification of result in Mass Communication with CGPA 2.86 (Lower Credit) issued December, 1998 in respect of the above named person is genuine”
As if Obi was acting under a spell, this letter from Federal Polytechnic, Oko was part of the documents he filed to prove his case against Isiguzo.
At the sitting in Enugu which came up on Tuesday, the court had told Obi’s lawyer to properly advise his client to do the needful in this case.
However, the judge advised both parties to settle out of court and adjourned the matter to January 27, 2020