The Nigerian Union of Journalists, Enugu State Council appears to be in cracks following the demolition of the Union Secretariat Perimeter Fence along Rangers Avenue, Independence Layout, Enugu by agency of the Enugu State Government.
Officials of the Enugu State Government from the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) had on Monday demolished the perimeter fence of the Headquarters of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Enugu State Council.
The Press Centre in Enugu donated to the defunct East Central Journalists Union by the then Administrator, East Central States, Dr. Ukpabi Asika in 1971, is the oldest in the Southeast.
The situation has brought to the fore leadership tussle as a group of journalists parading itself as caretaker committee of the Union has come out to commend the demolition.
In his reaction to the demolition, the state NUJ Chairman, Arum reportedly described the demolition of the centre as an affront on the media.
He said the sudden demolition on Monday in spite of entreaties made by the council for the amicable resolution of the issues at stake was a betrayal of trust.
According to him, the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) had marked the frontal perimeter fence for demolition on the ground that the fence was few meters beyond the town planning stipulation.
The chairman said that the council had made efforts to negotiate with ECTDA on how to sort out the matter without exposing the centre to insecurity.
“We tried to negotiate with the state government on how to resolve the issue so that no party would suffer unduly.
“We even presented some official land documents to back up our claims but the state government suddenly sent an earth moving equipment and demolished the fence.
“The foregoing has exposed this premises to insecurity and we are worried that the centre is no longer safe,” he said.
On the relationship between the state council of the NUJ and the state government, Arum said:
“There is nothing special about the relationship between the NUJ and the state government. State governors are supposed to be the grand patrons of the NUJ in their respective states.
“We have severally appealed to the state government for the renovation of the Unity Hall in the Press Centre but what we got was a demolition.
“If the state government had acceded to our appeal for the renovation in order to give the centre a face lift, perhaps, it would have taken care of the issues with the perimeter fence,” he said.
Shockingly, Sir Emeka Anyalebechi-led caretaker committee of the Union in the state commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for the state government’s intervention in restoring the original master plan of the state Press Centre.
While addressing a press conference in Enugu, on Tuesday, the caretaker committee lamented the previous and present administrations of the state union’s distortion of the press centre.
The committee said that the council had been served with notices of removal before the state government agency’s enforcement.
Anyalebechi said that the council had been served several notices of violation, noting that in fairness to the state agency, it did not remove the gate of the Press Centre that is properly located at the approved location of the fence.
“We commend the state government for its boldness in restoring the Enugu master plan no matter whose ox is gored. We appeal to the state government to restore the original master plan of the press centre and demolish all illegal structures within the press center,” Anyalebechi stated.
EnuguDaily observes that with the Union in disarray and subservient to the whims and caprices of the Ugwuanyi’s administration much will not achieved in the pursuit to reclaim the said perimeter fence.
It recalled that over 100 journalists in the state are on the payroll of the Enugu State government with each benefitting from Governor Ugwuanyi’s benevolence to the tune of 4 million naira from the government in the last four years, a situation that has made journalists in the state and the media in general an appendage of Enugu state government.