The Ogun State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has dragged the national president of the union, Chris Isiguzo, among others before the Federal High Court in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The dispute is over the dissolution of the state’s leadership by the national body.
The suit, FHC/AB/CS/50/2019, was instituted by the Ogun NUJ chairman, Soji Amosu, and four others seeking an order of injunction restraining the president and other respondents from conducting fresh election into the offices being manned by the applicants.
But Mr Isiguzo told PREMIUM TIMES that the central working committee of the union took the decision in response to series of petitions against the election conducted in the state on March 29, 2019.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs also sought an order nullifying the May 7 meeting of the central working committee where the decision was taken. They claimed Mr Amosu, alongside other newly executive members, had been elected in a peaceful election supervised by national officers of the union.
Apart from the chairman, the plaintiffs include Kunle Olayeni (Vice-Chairman), Ayokunle Ewuoso (Secretary), Abiodun Taiwo (Assistant Secretary) and Henry Ojoye (member of Federated Chapel).
Joined in the suit as second, third, fourth and fifth respondents are the NUJ National Secretary, Shuaib Leman, Assistant National Secretary, Gbemiga Bamidele, Central Working Committee (CWC) and National Executive Committee (NEC) of the union.
Biodun Ogundipe, Remi Olugbenro, Daud Olanrewaju, Goke Oyebade and Bisi Alarape, who contested the election, were also joined as sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth respondents.
Kayode Taiwo, Segun Lawole, Adewole Dosunmu, Ayo Obadimu and Dele Ayodo, who were purportedly listed as members of the caretaker committee of the union, were joined in the suit as eleventh to fifteenth respondents.
In an originating summons and motion on notice brought pursuant to Order 28 Rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) 2009, supported by a 32-paragraph affidavit, the applicants sought the interpretation of Article 5 Paragraph 10 and Article 6 Paragraph 7 (f) of the NUJ constitution.
The applicants also sought a declaration that in view of the extant provisions of the union’s constitution, the sixth, seventh, eighth and tenth respondents are not eligible to contest for any elective office of the union.
They sought a declaration that all resolution taken concerning the March 29 election at the CWC meeting “37 clear days after the election” of the applicants was null and void, unconstitutional and illegal.
On Monday, May 13, the presiding judge, Muhammad Abubakar, ordered that all the respondents be served the court originating summons and motion on notice before May 20, the adjourned date.
Counsel to the applicants, Deji Enisenyin, had told the court that few of the respondents were served before his appearance in court.
The sixth, eleventh and twelfth respondents were represented by their counsel, S.O. Tijani.
Meanwhile, the president of NUJ has said the committee dissolved the newly elected leadership of the Ogun State council in line with Article 5, Paragraph 10 of the union’s constitution. He said the decision was aimed at ensuring justice and fairness.
“The election was not just nullified. There were series of petitions and the report of the national officers that supervised the election corroborated the contents of the petitions. In fact, one of the national officers said he was held hostage at the election venue.
“A whole chapel – Consolidated Chapel, which has about 35 members was disenfranchised. They wrote their petition too. And we were told the top police official who monitored the election had advised that the process be postponed but they did not heed the advice. So, we are aware of the court action. And I promise that appropriate steps will be taken.”