The Presiding Judge, Makurdi Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Isaac Essien has nullified the Nigerian Union of Journalist Benue Council Election conducted on the 3rd July 2021, set aside the unconstitutional requirement of payment of N 5,000.00 for biometrics as a condition precedent for voting in the Benue State Council elections.
The Court further set aside the disqualification of Dabur Nabem to contest for the post of Secretary of the Benue Council of the Union and upheld the disqualification of Mr.Terna Umah, and Mr. Bemdoo Ugber by the screening committee having failed to satisfy the requirement of the NUJ Constitution.
Justice Essien ordered that the caretaker committee set up pursuant to the order of the court made on the 1st July 2021 to convene a congress of the Benue council of the Union within 14 days from the date of this judgment and to nominate a 5 man Electoral Committee to conduct election within 14 days from the date of the congress, and no member of the caretaker committee shall be eligible to contest the election to any post.
The Court also restrain the National Executive of the Union, the National President, Chris Isigozu; the Vice President Zone D, Wilson Bako from interfering in the conduct of the election or participating or visiting the venue of the congress and the election to be conducted by the care caretaker committee.
From facts, the claimant- Orduen Dura had submitted that the credentials screening committee cleared Mr. Dabur Nabem to contest for the post of secretary before he was disqualified by the Union National President and National Secretary without a fair hearing.
The claimant counsel argued that the Union National President and 5 others were wrong to have imposed a levy of N 5,000.00 as the fee for biometrics as a condition precedent for members to vote at the election conducted on the 3rd July 2021. He urged the court to declare the actions of the National President, and National Secretary as illegal, unconstitutional, null, and void in the interest of justice and equity.
However, despite service of hearing notices and extension of time, the defendants did not file any response to the originating summons.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Isaac Essien held that the action of the Union and its National President in clearing Mr.Terna Umah, and Mr. Bemdoo Ugber to contest the position of Chairman of the Union at the election held on the 3/7/2021 when they had been disqualified by the screening committee was a clear violation of the constitution of the NUJ and unlawful interference in the conduct of the election into the Benue Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalist.
The Court ruled that the National President of NUJ, Chris Isigozu, and his executive had no powers under the constitution of the NUJ, to have cleared the duo of Mr.Terna Umah, and Mr. Bemdoo Ugber who were disqualified from contesting the election by the screening committee report.
Justice Essien also faulted the introduction of a biometric levy as a condition for voting at the election conducted on the 3rd July 2021, declared same as a violation of the constitution of the NUJ, that the levy was clearly intended and indeed dis-enfranchised members of the Union from voting.
Justice Essien further held that there is no provision contained in the NUJ constitution that gives them the power and authority to disqualify a candidate that has been cleared by the screening committee and that the disqualification of Mr. Orduen Dura was a clear violation of his right to fair hearing and subjugation of the Constitution of the NUJ at the whims and caprices of the National President and his executive.