By Sahabi Abdullah
Truth and Justice remains the motto of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), until amended or changed by the present crop of its leaders who appear to be working in tandem with enemies of national progress and certified agents of corruption who are bent on institutionalizing corrupt practices in all facets of our national life.
For instance, on June 26, 2013, the National Secretariat of the Union, shamelessly and without regard to decency and due process, rushed in decision to publish an invitation letter to the publisher of Desert Herald, Alhaji Tukur Mamu in the July 1, 2013 edition of Leadership Newspaper as it appeared on its page 16. The invitation was for Mamu to appear before a three-member investigating committee over a petition of alleged perpetration of blackmail, extortion, defamation and libel emanating from the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Muhammed, was a food for thought going by the mode of operation of the NUJ.
NUJ as the umbrella to its members was either quick in forgetting that Tukur Mamu has never been its member or claimed to be one, hurriedly issued the invitation letter that gave room for suspicion and deceit to satisfy the wish of the petitioner who is alleged to have bankrolled the union to do his bidding.
First, NUJ should be bold enough to explain its source of funding for the placed advertorial of the invitation letter in Leadership Newspaper as well as the sponsorship of the Three Wise men charged with the responsibility of investigating Tukur Mamu which Mamu out rightly rejected and pin-pointed some lapses in composition.
Secondly, from its quick response to the petition, NUJ portrayed itself as one of those mushroom unions that can do any dirty job for survival not minding the repercussion of its action as its FCT chapel did at the beginning of the trouble.
Thirdly, the NUJ knows that it can only fool the petitioner to believing falsehood but cannot tame or scuttle the laudable effort of Tukur Mamu to exposing corrupt practices but chose to go ahead to appoint a three-man committee for the fruitless effort.
Fourthly, NUJ as a trade union and watch dog of the society is at least expected to support the efforts of Tukur Mamu in exposing corrupt practices instead of rushing to please the guilty and to possibly provide him cover.
In this case, since a complaint was brought against a reputable publisher, ideally, the NUJ could have liaised with the ‘suspect’ as an honor and listen to his own side of the story despite the claimed facts submitted. But the union leadership immediately rushed to appoint a committee to try the ‘innocent’ publisher and pronounce him guilty to justify the pay they have received.
Fifthly, instead of the NUJ to point out to the petitioner that it lacks the power to discipline Mamu as wished, but it could broker truce, it pretended to have enormous powers and authority to deal with Mamu which has failed and brought shame to the union. In such a situation, observers are at liberty to believe the rumor that money actually exchanged hands for the hatchet job against Mamu.
Sixthly, NUJ has in this case forgotten so easily that it is a mere trade union for those interested not a professional body that has the power to sanction even practicing journalists that are not its members.
Tukur Mamu throughout his career in the media industry has to the best of our knowledge never claimed to be a member of the NUJ, Guild of Editors or Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) but he remains a reputable publisher that cannot be wished away.
In his reply to the NUJ invitation letter, Mamu was straight and sincere. He requested for a face-face encounter with the petitioner as is obtainable in ideal situations. After all, was the FCT Minister the very person who submitted the petition or it was submitted on his behalf to the NUJ by his errand boys? Mamu has no business with any errand boy(s) but has an axe to grind with the Minister bordering on corrupt practices. If the Minister is honest to himself, let him be bold enough to face Mamu one on one in a televised debate instead of fighting him in the dark without success.
As a watch dog of the society, the NUJ could have accepted the offer extended by Mamu for a televised session of their investigation at his expense including session of cross examination between the petitioner and the petitioned. The union could have extended same invitation to the petitioner to appear for the televised session of their investigation to debunk the serious allegations bedeviling his reputation if any or at best, the Minister could have accepted to participate in the televised debate through any of his errand boys including his land speculators and chain of agents.
Finally, the NUJ should be bold to tender an apology to the petitioner and tell him the truth that it is incapacitated in handling his case. After all, was he not the one that instituted a case at an Abuja High Court against Tukur Mamu? Is he now saying the court is incompetent to handle the case and the NUJ is in a better position to dance to his tune since it can easily be bought over? Mamu should be ready with all his facts to prove to Nigerians that he has finally nailed one of the champions of corrupt practices who has caused the premature death of several innocent persons through demolishing of their land and resale of same to the highest bidder in an effort to govern Bauchi State in 2015.
NUJ, please stop meddling into issues that are beyond your powers and concentrate on doing what is right to your members. Lest we forget, is it true that your national president has been assured of sponsorship to the senate in 2015 if he is able to scuttle the efforts of Mamu?
Sahabi is a member of Practicing Journalists Association of Nigeria (PJAN), Makurdi
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