2023: We won't defend journalists who publish falsehoods, libel says NUJ

By Ndahi Marama, Maiduguri

Four Executive members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Borno state chapter has on Tuesday tendered a joint resignation letter to their respective chapels, which was copied to other security agencies and the national body of the union in Abuja, following what they described as breach of trust and direct attempt to ruin their integrity by the Bulama Talba led-  Chairman.

Bulama Talba, a director from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Information and Culture, and about to retire from the civil service, is currently the Director of Press Affairs at the office of the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Umar Usman Kadafur.

The Chairman was alleged to have connived with his Secretary, Comrade Ibrahim Mohammed of the Maiduguri Nta Zonal network Centre, North East, and the auditor of the union, Alhaji Habib Saleh who is an Information Officer at the Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, MRRR, and sold some four plots of land at the cost of N12 million only out of the over 12 plots earlier allocated to the union as permanent site by former governor Kashim Shettima.

The landed property is located along Maiduguri-Biu road within the metropolis, which was sold to Borno indigene without the knowledge of the other four aggrieved mentioned officials, and the State Executive Council (SEC).

The four aggrieved officials who jointly issued their resignation letter and copied to all the chapels, cited reason that, they were compelled to resign following a scandalous act in which, the Chairman connived with the Secretary, Ibrahim, as well as the Auditor, Saleh and sold the four plots near Bakasi housing estate, Maiduguri Borno state, after they wrote to the national body of the union demanding to sell only two plots to enable them fence the plot prevent incursion or revoke by the state Government. 

The aggrieved NUJ officials who tendered their resignation letters collectively are; Babagana Bukar from Borno Radio and Television (BRTV) who was the Vice Chairman of the Union while Mrs Hauwa Bata of the Peace FM  Maiduguri was the sidelined Treasurer.

Others aggrieved officials who signed the joint resignation letter, and believed to have not been carried along in the scheme of the Union are Chiroma Ali Ibrahim of Peace FM who was the Assistant Secretary, as well as Mr. Dauda Iliya of Radio Nigeria, a member of the Correspondents’ Chapel who was the financial secretary of the union.

In an internal memo which was presented to national secretariat, state body of the union, and all the other seven chapels that made up the council dated Monday 23, January 2022, a copy which was made available to our Correspondent reads in part: “We will like to bring into the kind notice of members of Nigeria Union of Journalists Borno state about a scandalous act in which the Chairman of our great union, Comrade Bulama Talba connived with the Secretary as well as the Auditor and sold four plots of NUJ land near Bakasi housing estate, Maiduguri Borno state.

“The trio without consulting the remaining state council officials, without convening a State Executive Council (SEC) meeting or Congress meeting wrote a letter dated 15th October, 2021 to NUJ National Secretariat seeking approval to sell 2 plots of the land for the purpose of fencing the entire NUJ land alleging that Borno state government is planning to revoke the property if not developed and was granted approval on the 20th October.

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“Four months after the approval, the Chairman, Secretary and Auditor shrouded the disgraceful act in secrecy until on 22nd January, 2022 when the State Working Committee (SWC) had its meeting.

“Surprisingly, the matter was not on the Agenda of the meeting, and when we inquire to know the position of the land, the Chairman vehemently denied knowledge that some portion of the land was dispose of.

“After long interrogation, the Secretary, Mohammed Ibrahim confessed that they sold four (4) instead of the two (2) plots earlier approved by the National Secretariat at the cost of N12 million naira and shamelessly shared N11 million money among the three of  them, while N1 million was sent to the National Secretariat as check up dues. 

“Sadly, up to this moment, there is no single block placed for fencing of the land, hence disassociating ourselves with this disgraceful act.

“It is in light of the above, that we hereby tender our resignation letter in accordance with Article 5 (e)(5) of the NUJ constitution and after due consultation with our respective chapels to protect our integrity and that of the union.

“We will like to appreciate the support and cooperation given to us by the entire members of NUJ Borno Council throughout our stay as officials. Thank you.” The signatories pointed in their joint resignation letter. 

Presently, the Chairman through his Secretary issued an invitation letter for an emergency SEC meeting which took place on Wednesday at the state secretariat, with a view to deliberate on the issue stake stake.

Meantime, at the end of the SEC meeting which was attended by Chairmen and Secretaries of the seven chapels, the trio have agreed to refund all the money for peace to reign.

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