Re: Complaint over alleged Perpetration of Blackmail, Extortion, Defamation and Libel

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DH/FZ1/SC/101/Vol.3                                                                29th June, 2013

The President,

Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ),

National Headquarters’,

Area II, Abuja.

Sir,

Re: Complaint over alleged Perpetration of Blackmail, Extortion, Defamation and Libel

With reference to your letter No. NUJ/NS/SC/70/Vol VI dated 26th June, 2013 which was delivered to my Kaduna office on 29th June, 2013, I wish to bring to your notice after extensive consultation as follows:

Having gone through the contents of your letter and even though there is no date of formal invitation and venue of the hearing in the letter and considering the fact that I am not even a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) which gives me the right under the law to accept or not to accept your invitation couple with an unusual notice of less than two days (considering the date 29th June, 2013 your letter was brought), I however accepted, for the sake of posterity and to put the record straight before Nigeria’s, to face your committee based on the following conditions, observations and suggestions which we believe are all within the purview of the law of  fairness, objectivity and fair play not only to us but to the feuding parties:

  • That before I appear before your committee and in line with the law I should be save with a copy of the so called petition written by the said Minister of the FCT, Sen. Bala Muhammad in other to get myself fully prepared to answer any questions from anybody.

·         That as the publisher of DESERT HERALD newspaper and magazine like most Nigerian publishers I have never participated in any NUJ election or ever registered as a member of your esteemed union because there is no law in Nigeria that makes it mandatory for either journalists and particularly publishers to be members of the NUJ before they can practice but I have however over the years out of respect for freedom of speech and association encouraged and supported willing members of my staff financially and otherwise to join the union and even participate in elections of the union under DESERT HERALD NUJ chapel. It is instructive to note therefore that the NUJ is a voluntary organization not only for journalists but particularly publishers. Your resolved as a concerned colleague to constitute a committee on such a highly controversial issue is commendable because it would be an opportunity for Nigerians to for the first time, get to know the claims and accusations of both parties directly. It would also go down in history of the Union as far as I can recollect, it is the first time such petition is being treated with SPEED and dispatch as requested by the petitioner.

·         That for me to participate in the proceedings, the NUJ should reconsider the composition of the three man committee for the sake of fairness, transparency and to give credibility to the outcome of their report. Only one out of the three members, Mr. Akin Orimolade, is independent of government (working with a private paper) while the other two are currently under the payroll of Federal and state governments. Membership of such a sensitive committee with the desperation and resources at the disposal of our detractors should be highly independent stakeholders with years of experience and record of proven integrity and honesty. I also suggest but not as part of my condition to participate that your good office should increase the members of the committee as three members only can easily be manipulated and may not do a thorough job within only one week of their mandate. There is no justification rushing to conclude a job of this nature as doing so will not only create suspicion but will be detrimental to fairness and justice. The committee should be given reasonable time to perform to the satisfaction of the two parties and Nigerians.

·         That like all other conventional hearings it must be done in public and open to all journalists and that I should be given reasonable time to invite credible foreign professional bodies like the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Border, Protection Rights of Journalists of Africa (PRJA) etc to participate or delegate representatives in the hearing. This will show to the whole world that the NUJ under your leadership has nothing to hide and that they will be fair and just to all. If the politicians can allow public and stakeholders access during hearing in other related national issues the NUJ which is also the watch dog of the society should follow same path for the purpose of transparency and to create public confidence. Making the proceedings public would also afford Nigerians to fairly judge the strength, weight and credibility of every argument, response or evidence.

·         Like all other conventional hearings in Nigeria and across the democratic world the NUJ should also allow television stations to cover the proceedings. As a promoter of justice, good governance and transparency, our company will be willing to negotiate and pay NTA or AIT to cover and transmit the proceedings live to Nigerians for effective scrutiny of all the documents involved that is if the NUJ cannot pay the charges.

·         That I will accept to participate and talk only in the presence of the said petitioner, Sen. Bala Muhammad. As a fundamental right, I want to sit face to face with the petitioner in person to enable me ask him questions on the contents of his so called petition against me to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of his allegations.

·         That the hearing should be done in any secured place within Abuja or Kaduna and that the NUJ should make proper arrangement for my personal security during the proceedings because ever since the onslaught begun there have been several threats to my life by the agents of the petitioner.

I want to assure your good office that as long as all the above observations and conditions which are purely basic fundamentals of human rights and issues of due process and law which will benefit all the contending parties are taken into cognizance, approved and applied and I am duly communicated by your office in that regard with reasonable notice due to my very tight schedules and engagements within and outside the country, I will be ready to answer any allegation in your historic hearing.

While thanking your good office for offering me such a great privilege without rushing to conclusion like others myopically did, please accept the assurances of my highest regard.

Yours sincerely,

Mal. Tukur Mamu

Dan Iyan Fika

Publisher/Chairman

CC: Hon. Minister Federal Capital Territory

Nigerian Press Council (NPC)

Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN)

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

Sadau Garba and Company, Ali Akilu Road, Kaduna

Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ), New York

Reporters Without Border, Paris

Protection Rights of Journalists of Africa (PRJA), Cape Town, South Africa

Human Rights for Journalists, Canada

The Ethical Journalism Initiative, Brussels, Belgium

International Federation of Journalism, Brussels, Belgium

World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, Germany

All Nigerian Media Houses

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