Is the election still on course?
Yes, itâ€™s on course,Â because we have not held back anything from meeting up with that why we put the Actors Guild of Nigeria general election on November is to enable us fulfill our promises. One to the states where elections have not been held.
Again, national election. All states chapters that have been acting on the interim bases are expected to have conducted election, to enable the state chairmen represent the chapter at the national election with this executives. So, these are the things we must tie up between now and November 15, to enable those state chapters that have not been inaugurated to come to the national election.
Transition is a very tough venture, when it comes to finances, what have been the major problems your committee have been facing?
Yes, you rightly pointed out finances, because we have tried to do things the right way to ensure that we operate within the limit of constitution, operate within expected rules and regulations. We have sensitized our members on registration, raising money through registration, dues, levies, and so on.
Also, we expect donations, and wish to partner with individuals, organizations and some state governments to see, which of the states will op to support their state charter to host the national convention and elections.
All these things, we have put in place. I must agree thee a clog in the wheel of the little progress we have recorded so far. But I assure you, what we are going to hold at the national is going to be the pride of Nollywood.
How far have you gone with the court case: Whatâ€™s the situation on ground, Was there really an injunction?
There was a court order. The order has to freeze the account because we need to suspend transaction on the account.
That was the bases of the court order. The court order also pronounced Ejike Asiegbu and former national executives that was also to let everybody know where the order is situated at. For the purposes of putting the public in the know of whatâ€™s happening.
Mr. Steve Eboh, is the plaintiff, he took the three defendants, the first defendant being the registrar, Actors Guild of Nigeria, while the second defendant is Actors Guild of Nigeria and the third defendant is Mr. Ejike Asiegbu.
And what Mr. Eboh is praying the court is whether that third defendant, Mr. Ejike Asiegbu as the president of the guild has elapsed on the 28th day of June 2008. As provided for in Clause BA of the second defendant as amended in 2007, whether upon the expiration of the tenure of the third defendant as the president of the guild, he still can parade himself as the president of the Actors Guild , then, if the court resolves one and two, what Steve Eboh is praying the court to do was in the declaration that what the president have done or ought toh ave been done by him on behalf of that, second defendant, Actors Guild of Nigeria and the Board of Trustees is null and void.
And the next prayer an order directing him to stop operating all the guildâ€™s account, and an order directing also his co-defendants to surrender all the paraphernalia of office. And an order restraining the third defendant, Mr. Ejike Asiegbu and his executive, led by h from conducting, supervising the conduct of the national election of the second defendant. Such act contravenes the constitution of the second defendant, his tenure and that of the members.
These are the things, Mr. Steve Eboh went to court to ask for.
The court went for break after these prayers, and it was supposed to deliver its judgement after the one-month holiday. The court was supposed to decide on the case on the 29th of September, 2009 but neither Mr. Asiegbu nor his lawyer turned up in court. So, the matter comes up again on the 15th of October.
Now, the question is, and let me use this opportunity to tell the public, how callous Mr. Ejike Asiegbu can be. This is a man who all these while has been feeling everybody that cares to listen that the matter is in court.
The matter s in court and he went ahead to organize a kangaroo election. The question members of the public should be asking him is, is it the same way, we all went on Actors Guild to be.
The question, heâ€™s still the man n charge, he still has the right to conduct an election until the court rules otherwise.
No, no, his tenure had elapsed. You cannot conduct election outside the tenure, you were allowed to be in office. Itâ€™s legally and morally impossible. the judge learnt that, he has gone ahead to conduct an election, he refuted it saying that with the prayers before him, Asiegbu has no right to conduct an election now.
Whether legal or illegal, the issue on ground is that someone emerged as president of AGN, how do you react to that?
Thatâ€™s to tell you how callous Mr. Ejike Asiegbu can be. But the truth of the matter is this. We donâ€™t think, he conducted an election for the Actors Guild of Nigeria. Thatâ€™s one: because in Actors Guild, election is supposed to be an election as well as a national contention. There is no way a chairman of a state chapter can come to a national election withoutÂ his executives.
You begin to ask yourself which of the statesâ€™ chairmen and theirÂ executives were at the general election. They said about twenty-two states were represented during the purported election. Can they give you the indices of the states that were represented. Can he publish and give you the names of those who graced the election.
Where are youÂ heading to?
Where Iâ€™m heading to, is that the man is callous.Â The man can do anything just to get out of this situation.
The man we are talking about here has been in touch with the chairmen of state chapters, who bluntly told him that they would not honour the invitation to grace the election. They were initially asked to come to Port-Harcourt, Rivers State for a meeting.
A lot of our members that witnessed the election were lured to Rivers state, under the guise of attending a meeting of the national execos, only for them to be faced with an election.But there were some state chairmen who refused to be bought over; for instance, Plateau state chairman refused to vote when he got there. He walked away despite the threats and intimidation.
But the state chairman who walked away were the Plateau state chairman. Niger, Kaduna, Gobme, Ebonyi andÂ Akwa-Ibom states. Ejike Asiegbu has a figure that emanated from his bedroom and not from theÂ Actors Guild of Nigeria.
The man is callous, he has reduced AGN to an object of caricature. What he has done, and thinking thatâ€™s smart is by hanging the leadership of AGN on Segun Arinzeâ€™s neck, who also think, heâ€™sÂ the new president of the body. Segun Arinze is the president of Ejike Asiegbuâ€™s guild, and not that of the Actors Guild of Nigeria.
I thought the whole problem was how to remove Ejike from office, and install a new leadership. Now that Segun Arinze has emerged from the other side, what do you think is the way forward for AGN ?
There will be peace if we learn to do things right . There will be peace if we do have people who are not selfish with power, and people who cherish eternal democracy with every sense of it. Now, you begin to ask yourself what led to the emerging of Segun Arinze as president.
This is a man, (Arinze), who came to the national office when the AGN was having their general meeting. And after the general meeting, I had to brief the press concerning the resolution of the members.
The Lagos state chapter during the Ejike Asiegbuâ€™s tenure had suspended him(Ejike), and it happened that Segun Arinze was at that meeting. He, Arinze even pledged the sum of N50,000 and urged other A-list actors to also part with N50,000 to empower the care taker committee financially to discharge their duties effectively. What kind of a man is that.
When did this donation take place?
It took place in August this year.
Segun donated N50,000 for Ejike to be removed from office?
No! But for the guild to move forward and to enable us tidy up plans for the forthcoming guildâ€™s general election.
And three week later, the man changed like a chameleon. So, heâ€™s aÂ man of double-standard. Itâ€™s very unfortunate. I would capture this, in one word, we all pity Mr. Arinze. I canâ€™t speak more than this..
Did he not pick the form under the platform of AGN Lagos?
Thatâ€™s the question. Segun was a registered member of the Nigerian Actors Guild (NAG), before it was re-named, Actors Guild of Nigeria. And that was in 1998.
What does it take to become the president of AGN, I mean the minimum qualification required of any member vying for the position?
To become the president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria(AGN), you must possess a minimum qualification of a first degree.
Thatâ€™s what the constitution says. This clause is contained in sub-section Q, clause 1 of the constitution. It also, added that for you to be eligible to contest for elective positionÂ of the guild; you must be an up to date financial member. Only financially up-to-date members are eligible to vote and be voted for.
Additionally, he must belong to a state chapter of the body. But from our report from the Lagos state of AGN, Mr. Arinze is not a bonafide member of the chapter. One, his particularsÂ are not contained in the records of the Actors Guild of Nigeria.
Even the president of Nigeria today, has a place heâ€™s coming from. So, whereâ€™s Segun coming from? By electoral guidelines, there are certain requirements you must fulfil for you to be elected the president, part of it is getting clearance from your chapter.
From where did Segun get his clearance? Even the chapter he is supposed to have belonged to, was not at the election.
So, whoâ€™s fooling who. Which of the executives did he go with. You ask yourself that question. How possible can a bank operate without a board of directors, or an election to be held without the presence of the Board of Trustees, who are the custodian of the constitution of the guild. Itâ€™s not possible.
So, conducting an election is the Ejike attempt to subvert justice. But he canâ€™t run away from it. We are accrediting our every move based on judicial process which we know is coming very shortly.