Barely 10 days after the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council had thrown a jamboree of what members described as “Press Day”, instead of the Union’s usual Annual Press Week Celebration/Lecture, facts have emerged on how the state council chairman, Mr Norbert Chiazor and the Secretary and Chairmanship expectant, Mr Churchill Oyowe, allegedly robbed the former governor of the state, Dr Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan of over N6 million.
The plan to allegedly defraud the former governor was perfected through the instrumentality of the NUJ Annual Press Week/Lecture and was carried out when the Union held its Zonal meeting in Asaba, the state capital.
Hardreporters gathered that Dr Uduaghan was invited as the distinguished chairman of the occasion to use the Annual Press Week/Lecture to launch a counter view of the over N600 million debt profile announced by his successor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, by putting the records straight over the bloated debt profile of the state which is presently a subject of controversy between the two governors.
It was learnt that Dr Uduaghan who saw the opportunity as that of a golden fish, jumped at it without considering the conditions placed before him by the duo.
According to our source, Uduaghan was allegedly cajoled into throwing his weight behind the aspiration of Oyowe, his (Uduaghan’s) kinsman and the alleged anointed candidate of Chiazor.
An impeccable source said, the ex-governor who was desperate to set the records straight on the debt profile was alleged to have accepted to sponsor his kinsman, at all cost not minding what it would cost him.
The script played out Tuesday 21st February, 2017, the scheduled date of the Annual Press Week/Lecture at the Labour House, Asaba, when Governor Uduaghan told the audience that the debt profile as claimed by Governor Okowa has been inconsistent and has been given with conflicting figures thrice by the Commissioner for Finance, Olorogun David Adevbie, stating that when the figure has come down to what was stated in his hand over note, he would know, mocking the whole exercise.
Hear our source, “to further compensate the architects of the plot, he instructed Comrade Chiazor to tell Oyowe to give Uduaghan his account details. Oyowe wrote his account details to him as instructed and immediately the money was paid into his UBA account to enable them prosecute the NUJ election. This must have informed why Governor Uduaghan was asking after a particular publisher in the hall on that day because the publisher was said to have knowledge of what transpired.
An insider who pleaded anonymity said Uduaghan may have allegedly being duped by the likes of Chiazor and Oyowe, “he was told that the only person that can protect Chiazor’s interest is Oyowe when he comes to bad publicity and he was told to do everything to make sure Oyowe emerged as the NUJ chairman”.
Oyowe who is a staff of the Ministry of Information but not a full flesh practicing journalist, it was learnt has no grip over the Correspondents from Warri, Ughelli, Sapele, Isoko, Agbor and Asaba, publishers, the Indigenous Newspapers and Magazine Chapel and the social media.
Hardreporters reliably gathered that the idea allegedly sold to Governor Uduaghan by Chiazor was that the money would be allegedly shared among the 15 chapels that makes up of NUJ in the state, the zonal secretariat and the national headquarters were allegedly quoted to have knowledge of the scam.
Our source alleged that N200, 000 would be given to each chapel as their transport allowances and upset of professional dues, N500, 000 would go to the zone while N1 million would go to the national headquarters to permanently accept the bidding, apart from the collection of forms, printing of posters among others even as plans are already on top gear to act the script.
Meanwhile, the yet to be inaugurated Credentials Committee recently released its time table where forms for various positions were reeled out at extortionate rates.
It was reliably gathered that the form for the office of the Chairman/Vice Chairman is pegged at N50, 000, Secretary/Treasurer, N40, 000, Financial Secretary/Assistant Secretary/Auditor would be sold for N30, 000.
Hardreporters gathered that the outcry that greeted the outrageous price, made the national body to suspend the activities of the committee just as it was learnt that the Vice President Zone F, Comrade Edward Apati had also cautioned the committee to soft pedal on their activities.
It was learnt that the exorbitant price was to allegedly disqualify aspirants who do not have cash to dole around or have sponsors who would throw their weights behind them.
Hardreporters source said, it was unfortunate that Uduaghan’s coming was to allegedly empower a few as the N1.5 million doled out to the Union didn’t go round all its members except some selected persons whom Chiazor allegedly said would do the story of the event.
While some chapels and those who do not belong to any chapel are still counting their lost, Hardreporters reliably learnt that executives of NUJ which comprise the Chairman, Norbert Chiazor, Assistant General Manager Delta Rainbow Television (DRTV) Warri, Felix Igbekoyi, Independent correspondent Asaba and NUJ chairmanship candidate as Vice Chairman, Churchill Oyowe, Public Relations Officer (PRO), with the moribund Ministry of Water Resources, Asaba, as Secretary, Ufuoma Seokun Weyinmi, Special Assistant to the governor on media as Assistant Secretary.
Others are: Lucky Ubiebor, Treasurer, Celestine Afokobah, staff of the Federal Ministry of Information as Financial Secretary and Ochuko Akuopha, Vanguard correspondent, covering Isoko and part of Kwale as Ex-Officio of the Union in the state, are allegedly having a free day with the money and part of the monies realized from awardees at the event.
The question agitating the minds of the over 400 members of the Union in the state is what would Governor Uduaghan and Chiazor wants to achieve with this plan?
Another school of thought alleged that Uduaghan was installing structures to fight dirty in 2019, while using the press as one of the tools, “I am looking forward to the day when I will sit with journalists in the state in a more relax environment somewhere and we will talk”, Uduaghan corroborated.
It was gathered that Chiazor is allegedly after his stomach, who used the event and the forthcoming election as a conduit pipe but pretends to Governor Okowa as a loyalist.
“When Governor Uduaghan gave N25 million to build the NUJ Secretariat, the money could not be accounted for and the governor did not ask what happened to the monies, now he has fallen victim again. He forgot that journalists are not politicians he can buy with cash. How sure is he that journalists will vote for his person and he will eventually win? Time will tell”, Hardreporters source said.
It would be recall that the former governor has warned that the alleged use of blackmailers by the incumbent governor of the state, Senator Okowa could lead to very serious security challenges if not tamed.
In his reaction, Mr Chiazor said the allegations levelled against him were lies, describing the ‘master minders as being wicked’, “It is not true my brother. It is a wicked lie. I know those who are peddling that lies. Whoever is peddling that rumour will sleep and never wake up. Whoever wrote that thing, God will expose that person”.
The outgoing NUJ Chairman said the rumour mongers were very wicked, noting that when the vengeance of God would come, it would wipe away the person and the generations to come, stressing that if the allegations were genuine, “I will defend himself”, he said.
“It is not true, it is some persons that are desperate to win elections that are fighting that young man. Because he is contesting election. Does he not have the right to contest? He asked.
At press time, efforts to reach the alleged preferred candidate of the outgoing chairman, Oyowe, on the allegations proved abortive as text message sent to his mobile phone couldn’t deliver. Also his line was not reachable when Hardreporters tried contacting him on his cell phone while the former governor, Uduaghan could not also be reached for their own side of the story.