Journalists in court over election dispute

Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 25 September 2012 | 4,621 times

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An Umuahia High Court will on October 23 determine if it has the jurisdiction to preside over the case brought before it challenging the outcome of elections into the Executive Committee of Correspondents Chapel of the Abia State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). This follows a preliminary objection raised by Defence Counsel, Dr (Barrister) ACB Agbazuere.

When the case came up today for mention, Agbazuere (shown in photo) filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the High Court to entertain the suit brought against the Abia State Council of the NUJ and five members of the Correspondents Chapel.

In the Suit with Reference Number HU/97/2012 brought before Justice Lilian Abai, Anayo Okoli of the Vanguard Newspapers, Obinna Ibe of Insider Magazine and George Opara of National Mirror are challenging the outcome of the Correspondents Chapel election held on May 2, 2012 in which Emmanuel Ugwu of ThisDay emerged the new chairman.

Defendants in the suit are Emmanuel Ugwu, Emeka Okafor, Henrietta Ashikodi, Jenarius Ezeru and Steve Oko and Hyacinth Okoli.

While the 1st and 2nd defendants were elected Chairman and Secretary respectively during the said election, the 3rd to 5th defendants were elected Treasurer, Assistant Secretary and Financial Secretary respectively in a subsequent bye-election on May 30.

The 6th defendant is the Chairman of the Abia State Council of the NUJ whom the Claimants are accusing of imposing the 1st and 2nd defendants on the Correspondents Chapel as chairman of the State Working Committee.

The claimants are seeking a declaration of the Court that the State Working Committee does not have the power to disqualify any candidate for the election, among other reliefs. They are contesting the disqualification of Emmanuel Acha of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who contested for the chairmanship position for not attaining the constitutionally stipulated five years of practice.

In their statement of defence, the defendants are contending that the claimants have no locus standi to institute the action since they did not stand for the election and were non-financial members of the NUJ.

The defendants also claimed that Emmanuel Acha was disqualified based on the proof of a protest letter against his candidature to the effect that he was yet  to clock five years in active journalism practice as stipulated by the NUJ constitution.

When the case came up for mention today, defence counsel Agbazuere filed a preliminary objection on the grounds that the claimants have no locus standi; non-joinder of the NUJ and that the claimants disclosed no cause of action or reasonable cause of action.

However, Barrister N.C. Onyeiro, also filed a motion seeking to join Emmanuel Acha as one of the claimants.

After listening to both Counsel, Justice Abai adjourned the case to October 23, for ruling on the two motions.

Source: News Express

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