By Adeola Badru
The National Industrial Court, sitting in Ibadan, on Wednesday, affirmed the election of Comrade Soji Amosu as the duly elected Chairman of Ogun State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The court, in suit number NICN/IB/85/2019, also affirmed the election of Comrades Kunle Olayeni, Kunle Ewuoso and Abiodun Taiwo as validly elected Vice-Chairman, Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the union respectively.
The presiding judge, Justice J. D. Peters, while delivering judgement in the suit, held that the annulment of the March 29, 2019 election which brought the claimants into office was illegal and against the NUJ constitution.
The judge also granted seven of the eight reliefs sought by the applicants and awarded a cost of N200,000 against the respondents.
It will be recalled that Amosu and three others had dragged the NUJ President, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, the NUJ National Secretary, Comrade Shuaib Leman, and 12 other defendants, challenging the purported decision of the union’s national leadership to nullify the election of the claimants.
The NUJ President had dissolved the leadership of the state council in line with Article 5, Paragraph 10 of the union’s constitution.
However, the claimants disagreed with Isiguzo and other respondents, stating that their election was free, fair, transparent and credible as it was supervised by the national officers of the union.
But in his judgement on Wednesday, Justice Peters ruled that the meeting held by the National Working Committee of NUJ where the illegal annulment was done was illegal, null and void.
“This court found merit in seven out of the eight prayers of the claimants, and I hereby ruled that the annulment of their election is null and void,” the judge declared.”
He further held that the court had jurisdiction to hear and determine the case, adding that the applicants were also entitled to the reliefs sought.
Justice Peters said: “I have read and understood all the processes filed by learned Counsel on either side. I also heard the oral arguments canvassed by both sides.”
“My understanding of the simple facts of this case is that the 1st to 4th Applicants contested an election into and were duly elected into various offices of the Ogun State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists.”
“As perhaps not unusual, there were complaints respecting the conduct and outcome of the election by some aggrieved members and contestants. Complaints were lodged to the Central Working Committee of the Union at the National level which by the Constitution of the Union had powers to act summarily within 21 days respecting such complaints.”
“The Central Working Committee did not take the steps as required until after 37 clear days from the date of the election complained of. The Applicants approached the Court among others to pronounce on the constitutionality of the Central Working Committee acting outside the 21-day window accorded it under the Constitution of the Union.”
“On the other hand, the Respondents/Applicants aside from raising a preliminary objection that this Court lacks the competence to adjudicate on same, that proper parties are not before the Court, that the 3rd & 4th Respondents are not juristic persons also argued that the words of the Constitution of the Union sought to be construed is not amenable to the literal rule and that in any event the Applicants herein have voluntarily abandoned their rights and entitlement to the reliefs sought.”