C’River NUJ Faction Protests Invasion of Election Venue by Soldiers, Police, DSS

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Bassey Inyang in Calabar
A faction of the state’s Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has protested what it described as “the refusal of the National Secretary of the NUJ to comply with the judgment that nullified the Ndoma Akpet-led State Exco on February 24, 2016, and the brazen breach of the NUJ constitution, we the stakeholders of the union hereby condemn the purported election of Monday, April 4, 2016.”

Meanwhile, amidst tension and booming sounds of gunshots from the barrels of the guns of a combined team of military men, personnel of the Department of State Service (DSS), and men of the Nigeria Police Force, members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) , Cross River State, on Monday elected a new executive to run the union’s affairs for the next three years.

Sections of 3rd Avenue, the location of the Ernest Etim Bassey NUJ Press Centre, venue of the election, were condoned off by the DSS and the police and the military, which backed out orders to motorists diverting vehicles to other routes.
Persons residing close to the NUJ Press Centre were prevented from gaining free access to their houses while the election lasted, perhaps due to the terrifying sounds of the gunshots.

Journalists considered not being in support of a candidate termed “government candidate” were physically manhandled by the soldiers and policeman, allegedly deployed on the orders of a state government appointee.

During the duration of the election which lasted for hours from 8.30 am to 2.30 pm, sounds of gunshots fired by the combined team of the military, the police and DSS were heard intermittently, forcing residents of the area to stay at home.
Those who contested the chairmanship position were Mr. Lawrence Mpama of Watchman Magazine, Florence Oluohu of Chronicle Newspapers and Mr. Victor Udu of the state Ministry of Information.

The election to seven of the offices conducted by Mr. James Uwem and Mr. Sam Egbala , a national trustee of the NUJ, declared Udu as winner against Mpama, and Oluohu who left the press centre when journalists were attacked.

Other officers elected include Mr Oqua Etim (vice Chairman); Mr Oka Ibor (Secretary); Mr Benson Ezugwu (Assistant Secretary); Mrs Archibong Bassey (Treasurer); Mr Edem Edem (Financial Secretary) and Mrs Itam Offor (Internal Auditor).

Commenting on the outcome of the election, Uwem commended the members of NUJ in the state for their peaceful conduct during the election.
However, some of the contestants and stakeholders have rejected the conduct of the election, saying it was a complete sham.

In a statement signed by Renny Etta, Gill Nsa, Florence Oluohu, Lawrence Mpama and six others, the stakeholders described the conduct of the election as a complete contravention of the NUJ constitution and the judgement of the Industrial Court which directed the conduct of the elections.

The document read as follows: “In view of the refusal of the National Secretary of the NUJ to comply with the judgment that nullified the Ndoma Akpet-led State Exco on February 24, 2016, and the brazen breach of the NUJ constitution, we the stakeholders of the union hereby condemn the purported election of Monday, April 4, 2016.

“We also strongly condemn the use of the Army, Air Force, Navy, DSS and Police in cordoning off the NUJ Secretariat for the purpose of conducting the purported election.

“We draw the attention of the state and federal government to the use of security operatives in attacking journalists and shooting indiscriminately at the NUJ press centre and therefore call on the authorities to investigate the unwholesome meddlesomeness and brazen display of bravado and seek that the culprits be brought to book.”