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Court nullifies Stella's suspension, affirms her certification, awards N.5m damages against NUJ, Anne Daniels et al - ITREALMS

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The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) sitting at Area 3, Garki-Abuja on Tuesday March 29, 2022 delivered a landmark judgement on suit number NICN/ABJ/139/2021, in favour of Stella Okoh-Esene, the immediate past chairperson of the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, reports ITREALMS.

The court also reinstated her membership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and reaffirmed that her Advanced Diploma Certificate from Times Journalism Institute (TJI) Lagos, remained valid qualification to practice the profession, aside her 20-year experience on the job.

The suit, which originated before the National President of NICN, Justice B.B. Kanyip, was between the claimant, Stella Okoh-Esene and five defendants namely the chapter NAWOJ; NUJ; Chairman, NUJ; Chairman, Credentials Committee (2020 Elections) at NAWOJ FCT chapter; and Anna K. Daniels, a candidate the said election, in that order.

ITREALMS also gathered that the Industrial Court judgement granted three of the reliefs out of the prayers sought before the Court.

The judgement according to the Certified True Copy obtained by the Lawyer to Stella Okoh-Esene, Barrister Kanu Oko Agabi and available to ITREALMS the court re-instated Okoh-Esene after her unlawful suspension from the Union as a result of her approaching the court to ventilate her position.

The Court judgement also obtained by ITREALMS at the NICN Judgement portal, equally awarded the sum of Five Hundred Thousand (N500,000.00 only) as damages against NAWOJ and NUJ.

Reacting to the judgement, Stella Okoh-Esene applauded the court and its leadership describing it as great achievement capable of correcting many wrongs in NUJ activities in the country.

She re-affirmed belief, trust and commitment in the popular understanding that the Judiciary remains the hope of common people especially in Nigeria.

“It is our conviction that the judgment is a win-win outcome for us, NAWOJ and even the NUJ as this will strengthen future power that members possess against the dictatorial tendencies of those at the helm of affairs of the Union,” she said.

As said by her, “I am also grateful to the Court for making a categorical pronouncement that my academic qualification (Advanced Diploma in Journalism by TJI) is not in doubt. The NUJ and NAWOJ wanted to rubbish me when the National Secretariat disqualified me. However, the Court has reversed that wrong notion putting to rest the nature of my certificates which were duly acquired from recognized institutions. It remains my choice whether or not I can contest in future elections.”

Maintaining that the requirements contained in the NUJ Constitution is not in doubt for contesting elections.

She blamed NAWOJ members for allowing their men counterpart in the pen Union to maneuver their activities, stressing that such is not obtainable with female lawyers in their Association under the Nigeria Bar Association.

“There is no need for NAWOJ to be if the men will still be seen interfering and dictating what happens with the Association,” she bemoaned.

As a democrat, Okoh-Esene said she wished NAWOJ in FCT well and hope that the teeming members will accord the respect they gave her towards a unified association that will overcome more barriers ahead.

“I equally thank all those who stood by me by direct support to successfully overcome this feat in Court,” she said.

Nenye Dom/Editor

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