Following allegation of financial scandal against Mr. Biodun Abdulkareem-led executive committee of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kwara State Council, the State Working Committee (SWC) has been directed to step aside pending the outcome of investigations against them.
The SWC allegedly mismanaged N1.69 million Life Insurance premium paid by the State government since December 2012 for all working Journalists in the State.
The State congress of the Union which was presided over by a member of the SWC, Elder Segun Bamidele in line with the NUJ constitution since neither the embattled chairman, Mall. Abiodun Abdukareem nor his Vice, Mrs. Silifat Adeyemi was present, arrived at the decision at the end of the meeting.
It also set up a five-man committee headed by Pastor Sunday Bello to investigate the controversial issue of insurance premium. Other members of the committee include the former Deputy Chief Press Secretary to the immediate past governor of the State, Mr. Jimoh Salawu, Mr. Bashir Jimoh, Michael Oduegwu and Mrs. Fatimoh Mohammed Lawal of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The terms of reference of the committee among other things are; to investigate why late Stephen Olusola Owolabi, a deceased member of the Council will not benefit from the life insurance policy; to find out when and where the cheque issued by the State government in December last year was lodged; to find out the account in which the cheque was lodged whether Council or private account; to find the total amount paid into the NUJ National Secretariat account and insurance brokers’ account to date; to find out the names and total of beneficiaries; to find out role (s) played by each member of the SWC in the financial transactions; and to make appropriate recommendations and sanctions to the congress.
In a well-attended congress by members which cut across various chapels, it was resolved that the account of the Council frozen, while all properties and documents in the custody of the SWC be handed over to the SEC led by Mr. Sunday Oyedele of State Information Chapel, while Deacon Joseph Kolapo serves as the Protem Secretary.
It would be recalled that Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed paid N1.69 million as life insurance premium for all working Journalists in the State, the cheque was presented to the State NUJ chairman on 21st December, 2012.
But investigations revealed after the death of late Owolabi, who died in auto accident last month, that the money was not immediately paid into the coffers of the NUJ National Secretariat as expected. Efforts made to reach out to the insurance firm to claim Owolabi’s entitlement proved abortive just as his name was not captured in the 90 names reportedly sent by the Council Chairman to Abuja via SMS.
A statement signed by Mr. Sunday Oyedele (Chairman SEC), and Deacon Joseph Kolapo (Protem Secretary) appointed at the State Congress of the Union held last Tuesday added that investigations conducted revealed that Abdulkareem started remitting the money on April 25th this year with only 30 names paid leaving over 200 journalists unsecured.
The congress was conducted under the tight security provided by the Nigeria Police as well as men of the Department of State Security Services (SSS).