19th November, 2022
By Jethro Ibileke
There is palpable disquiet among journalists and other stakeholders of the media industry in Edo state, over alleged plans by the state government to take over the vast land on which the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), is built.
The secretariat is located on No 1, Igbinedion Way, formerly known as Reservation Road, in the GRA axis of the Benin metropolis.
According to an investigation by Vanguard newspaper, the land was donated to the NUJ by Oba Akenzua II, while the main building was built by late Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, who was then military governor of defunct Bendel State.
The report further gathered that a special arrangement was struck with the then state-owned the Okpella Cement Factory, to supply cement for the construction of the building, after which it recouped its money and subsequently handed over the place to the Union.
Subsequent governments have supported the Union in various ways till date.
The State Government’s plot to take over the property was however exposed when the Director of Lands, Edo State Geographic Information Service (EDOGIS), Mrs. Lydia Igbinigie, wrote to the Chairman of the Edo State Council of NUJ, Comrade Festus Alenkhe, on the land matter, even as the Managing Director of EDOGIS, Mrs. Osaro Aihie, also called him on the same matter.
As at the time of this report, no one has known the exact reason for the plan by Governor Godwin Obaseki to take over the land.
Past Chairmen of the Union however met with the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, in his office on on the land matter.
He was quoted to have said that he was not aware of the land tussle and demolition bid. He however promised to get the details.
The State Commissioner for Physical Planning, and Urban and Regional Development, Mrs. Isoken Omo, neither pick calls nor respond to sms and WhatsApp messages made to her by Vanguard newspaper.
On his part, the Commissioner for Communication and Orientation counterpart, Chris Nehikhare, who declined comment on the NUJ’s land matter, was quoted as saying that Obaseki’s government was working on moats’ right of way in Benin and its environs.
When contacted, the President of NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, said: “Please, ask Edo State Chairman of NUJ. I earlier told Festus Alenkhe what to do”.
On his part, the Chairman of the Edo State Council of the NUJ, Festus Alenkhe, said the directive of the President would be strictly adhered to.