…As Edo NUJ suspends Secretary, 8 others for N5m fraud
The Monarch of Benin Kingdom, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Ewuare II, on Friday hosted the immediate past Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to a lavish grand reception at the palace in honour of his outstanding performance and all-round development of the state during his two-term governorship.
During the colourful ceremony that serving Governors including Oshiomhole’s successor, Governor Godwin Obaseki and his wife, Betty, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State; NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and NEC member, Comrade Issa Aremu; media mogul and publisher of Thisday, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, upper and lower federal as well as state parliament leaders, captains of industry, members of the diplomatic corps and other dignitaries graced, Oba Ewuare eulogized Oshiomhole with glowing words, prayed for him and gave him a special gift of bronze cast in Oshiomhole’s image.
Speaking after a rendition of the kingdom’s folklore and anthem that preceded the Nigerian national anthem, Oba Ewuare said, “A lot of encomiums have already been showered on the former governor. But we felt we needed to host him at the palace ground for promoting Edo Culture and doing what past governors said were impossible. He was committed to duty, achieved what past administrations could not achieve and showed great respect to the Benin Monarchy.”
Explaining how Oshiomhole’s government did what past governments couldn’t do by entrenching an era that achieved great infrastructural development of Edo State, the monarch said his honour for the former Governor was “a deserving honour.”
“This is the time to crown it all by hosting him ourselves in this ancient ground… for showing that what past administrations thought was not possible was possible and for showing much respect to the Benin Traditional Kingdom,” Oba Ewuare concluded, after which he prayed for Oshiomhole to soar like an Eagle
In his brief speech, Governor Obaseki thanked Oba Ewuare for honouring his predecessor.
He emphasized that the royal father’s acknowledgment of Oshiomhole’s achievements showed there is reward for anybody who truly serves the people and added that such honour would spur him, as his successor, to do much more for the people.
Extolling Oshiomhole’s virtues for laying the foundation of economic development of Edo State and using his office to unite the state’s diverse people, Mr. Obaseki stated, “He is the first political leader I can remember in our recent history who has used politics to unite all the people of his state, Edo State, to the extent that we now see ourselves as Edo people, not just as Benin, Afemai or Esan,” and concluded, “I am one of the few governors in the country with little work to do because he has done it all. All I am just doing is to continue from where he stopped.”
In his remark, Oshiomhole, whose mother personally attended the event in support, expressed his gratitude to Oba Ewuare, his transited father, Oba Erediauwa and the palace for the support they gave him to succeed in office.
Looking at the bronze cast again as he spoke, Oshiomhole described the royal artwork as a reflection of the story and history of his life’s struggles; thanked Oba Ewuare for the gift, urged his successor to do more for the people and urged the people to be patient with him. Particularly, Oshiomhole urged Nigerians to be patient with President Muhammadu Buhari as he strives to rebuild Nigeria after 16 years of destruction.
“President Buhari has a lot in his hands. He is ready to transform this country and he is determined. The country is going through a lot of challenges. What has been destroyed in 16 years cannot be re-ordered in two years,” he urged Nigerians.
The event that had a lot of cultural dances and folklore renditions as well as plenty foods and drinks to enjoy the moment, attracted many other dignitaries including the Chief Judge of Edo State, Justice (Mrs.) Esohe Ikponmwen; Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu’s wife, Mrs. Maryann Shaibu; Senator Mathew Urhoghide, who represented Senate President Bukola Saraki; Hon. Pally Iriase, who represented Speaker Dogara; industrialist Capt. Hosa Okunbor; and Edo Speaker, Hon. Kabiru Adjoto, who was represented as well as Oshiomhole’s former Deputy Governor, Dr. Pius Odubu, who was noticeably absent among others.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, the congress of Edo State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has indefinitely suspended nine of its members, including Edo NUJ Secretary-General, Mr. Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu and Chairman of the Correspondents’ Chapel, Mr. Simon Ebegbulem at an emergency congress held on Friday for fraudulently collecting and converting N5 million cash gift meant for all journalists.
Chairman of Edo State NUJ, Roland Osakue and Secretary of its communiqué drafting committee, Kehinde Osagiede signed a communiqué that emerged from the emergency congress held at the hall of the state secretariat on Reservation Road in Benin City, Edo State.
Titled: Suspension of Edo Edo NUJ Secretary, Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu and Eight Others Over N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira) Fraud, it states: “Following exhaustive deliberations by members of Edo State NUJ at its September 22nd 2017 congress on the above subject matter, the congress therefore resolved as follows.
It states further: “That all the nine members involved in the N5m fraud be suspended indefinitely, namely: Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, The Guardian; Simon Ebegbulem, Vanguard; Cajetan Mmuta, New Telegraph; Patrick Ochoga, Leadership; Otabor Friday, The Nation; Adekumbi Ero, Tell Magazine; Tony Osauzo, The Sun; Adibe Emenyonu, Thisday; and Ehis Igbaugba, NAN.”
“That the property of the union in possession of the suspended members, particularly the Secretary to the council, Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu be withdrawn.”
“That the affected members return the said N5m to the union’s coffers latest Wednesday, 27th September, 2017.”
“That an emergency congress be held on Thursday to review their punishment of sanctions.”
According to journalists working in Edo State, while this is not the first time such allegation of fraudulent handling or admission of outright stealing of money provided for all journalists have been committed by the same group of criminal persons, it has become a recurrent criminal act that occurs immediately after every major national or state or local government election conducted in the state since 2012, for which punitive action was only being taken on Friday.
They also alleged that the indicted journalists secretly imported cultists into the premises of the NUJ while the congress was going on with a view to disrupting, threatening and attacking the lives of congress members.
Owing to the impunity with which the indicted officials and members handle financial issues, some members have suggested that they should be handed over to the police or the EFCC whether they repay the stolen money or not on or before Wednesday deadline.
It might be recalled that during the most recent crisis that led to a change of leadership at the Edo State House of Assembly and its concomitant allegation about the seizure of official vehicles by a former Speaker of the Assembly, some of the indicted journalists, whose characters and conducts are, at best, secret, selfish, greedy, hateful, spiteful, corrupt and criminal, wrote all manner of insulting and abusive stories against the lawmaker until the alleged vehicles were returned pen-ultimate week.
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