The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Lagos Chapter, has urged the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) to release the report of its investigation into the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) housing scheme fraud.
NAWOJ Chairperson, Hajia Sekinah Lawal, made the request at a news conference in Ikeja on Monday.
Lawal said that after two years of investigation into the alleged fraud, she expected the anti-graft commission to make the report of its findings public.
She expressed frustration about the inability of the EFCC to release the report.
“We call on the leadership of the EFCC in Lagos to summon the courage to issue a report on its findings, after two years of investigation and proceed to do the needful,” she said.
According to Lawal, no fewer than 800 persons, mostly journalists, subscribed to the housing scheme, which is now suspected to be fraudulent.
She lamented that the EFCC had been silent for too long on a petition submitted two years ago by 26 of the subscribers, calling for a probe of NAWOJ President, Ifeyinwa Omowole, over the failed scheme.
Lawal, who addressed the press alongside the NUJ Chairman of The Nation Chapel, Mr Musa Odoshimokhe, contended that the election conducted last Thursday by NAWOJ, Lagos chapter, was null and void, having been conducted in disobedience to a court order.
“The election season came amid a struggle to get justice for our members who had lost about N150 million in a fraudulent housing scheme that was spearheaded by Mrs Omowole, who saw a window of opportunity in the planned Lagos NAWOJ election to wrest power from the vocal incumbent chairperson of NAWOJ, Lawal.
“After suffering the inaction of the past national and state leadership of the NUJ in the last three years, regarding the housing fraud, some of the subscribers even reported those involved to the EFCC.
“Omowole openly boasted that nothing would come out of the EFCC,” Lawal lamented.
She argued that the May 23 Lagos NAWOJ election could not stand as it was conducted against the order of the National Industrial Court (NIC).
While vowing that the housing scheme subscribers would do everything legally possible to get justice, Lawal called on the EFCC to release its probe report of its investigation without further delay.
“There shall be no retreat and no surrender in our collective struggle for justice as we rest assured that the harder the struggle, the more glorious shall be our triumph,” she said.
Also speaking, the NUJ “The Nation Chapel” chairman, Odoshimokhe said the NUJ was in a disarray.
He added: “If we don’t put our heads together to nip all these crises in the bud now, it will become a monster that will hunt all of us”.
According to him, NAWOJ President Omowole is at the centre of all these crises in the Lagos State council because she has an anointed candidate.
“As a result, she arranged the so-called electoral committee to favour her candidate in the botched election.”
“We are against this; the electoral committee set the constitution aside.
“If the constitution is to be set aside, it should encompass everything not that you set aside certain areas and uphold some areas because those areas you’re upholding are only favourable to you.
“Our members, who came there to partake in that election, were not allowed to participate.
“They were chased out and some of them were even rough handled.
“As far as we are concerned at The Nation, that election has not held.
“That election was one-sided and it was only done by the so-called Public Relations Officers (PROs) in the Ministry of Information.
“The Nation, The Sun, The Guardian and some other chapels were disenfranchised and, therefore, there was no election,” Odoshimokhe said.
He pointed out that there was a court process on the ground, adding that the disenfranchised members might file a legal case against them,
“Our members have paid their dues and you cannot come overnight and say people should pay N3000 when they have paid as members of NUJ.
“By double taxing them with N3000, that has not been the process.
“The NAWOJ election is, therefore, a charade that cannot stand and we are against it. We cannot accept it in any way.”
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