… elect Thisday correspondent as chair
The crisis rocking the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Imo State council, came to a head recently when journalists in the state sacked the leadership of the council led by Chief Innocent Igwe over what they described as gross misconduct and maladministration of the members of that executive.
The removal of the Igwe-led executive committee followed a vote of no confidence moved against it by Iyke Ndumele and Chris Njoku of Nigerian Horn and National Mirror newspapers respectively at an extra-ordinary meeting of practising journalists in state at City Chef Restaurant, Owerri.
The no-confidence vote on the NUJ chairman and the members of his executive is also a fall-out of a curious suspension order purportedly handed on the Correspondents’ Chapel by the Igwe-led State Working Committee (SWC) of the NUJ, following the former’s earlier complaint against the latter over the disbursing of the N5million cash donation given to journalists by Governor Rochas Okorocha.
In the meeting, the journalists also elected the state correspondent of Thisday newspapers, Amby Uneze and a reporter with Nigerian Horn, Iyke Ndumele as the interim chairman and secretary of the state council of the NUJ respectively, while Francis Onyeukwu (News Agency of Nigeria), Anselam Anokwute (Nigerian Watchdog) and Tunji Adedeji (Trumpeta Newspaper) were elected as executive members into the Interim Management Committee.

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They unanimously stated that the need to sack the Igwe-led leadership became necessary to urgently redeem the battered image of the NUJ in the state.
According Athan Agbakwuru of Nigerian Pilot, the journalism practice in Imo State had since been plunged into putrid mercantilism by “these questionable and highly corrupt persons some of who have since retired from their various establishments, but who have the sinister motive of hiding under the umbrella of the council executive to continue to rip-off uninformed and unsuspecting members of the public”.
Also speaking, Val Nduka of The Tide newspapers noted with concern, the commercialization of the membership of NUJ in Imo State where non-journalists are indiscriminately issued identity cards of the union upon the payment of a token fee of N5,000 as the case may be.

He observed with regrets the way and manner Innocent Igwe-led executive ran the finances of the council as a private estate, as in the past four years which he had piloted the affairs of the council as chairman, noting that he (Igwe) had deliberately decided to cook-up financial accounts wherein he stated that the council was indebted to him.
In their separate speeches, George Onyejiuwa, Val Okara and Christian Nwokocha Okodili Ndidi of Daily Sun, Daily Times, The Niche and The Nation newspapers respectively observed with regrets the conversion of the NUJ press centre into a brothel by the same Innocent Igwe-led executive as according to them, some executive members had shamelessly reserved permanent rooms for themselves and their concubines thereby abusing the purpose for which the facility was set up.
They further frowned at the unbridled and orchestrated acts of exploitation of unsuspecting members of the public by the former executive, led by Innocent Igwe which had dented the corporate image of the council.

The journalists condemned in strong terms the flooding of the premises and near-dilapidation of structures within the secretariat of Imo State NUJ Council in spite of the millions of naira accruing into the coffers of the council via deductions and donations made to the council by groups and individuals.
“Few cases in point are the recent cash donation of N5 million each made to union by Governor Rochas Okorocha and Senator Hope Uzodinma representing Imo West Senatorial District; 2014 Press Week celebration where the council generated over N7 million cash among numerous other instances. Therefore we cannot continue to allow these people to manage our affairs as journalists”, Okara stated.

They therefore called on the new interim management committee of the NUJ led by Uneze to embark on complete renaissance of the journalism practice, saying, situations where non-practitioners managed the affairs of the union must be be seen to have been over.
Responding, Mr. Uneze hailed Imo journalists for taking a bold step toward sanitizing the union and promised to do everything within his means to redeem the already battered image of the journalism profession in the state.