My attention has been brought to a news item (NUJ Berates Tolu Babaleye for attacking Journalists, Declares Him Persona non grata) which was never served on me but freely circulated on Social Media and some blogs in which the NUJ Ondo State Council felt offended over my Facebook post wherein it was alleged that I called Akure Journalist lazy, copy and paste journalists for not giving information promptly about the explosion that happened in Akure yesterday, Saturday 28th March, 2020 as at 7:50am.
In the first place, I did not refer to anyone in particular in my post as a lazy journalist and I did my post in the heat of passion when I heard the information at about 1:30 am on that Saturday morning out of love of the People of Ondo State and due to incessant calls and to unravel the circumstances of the unfortunate explosion that led to loss of property in Millions and serious injury to some citizens of Ondo State, some of whom are still receiving treatment till this moment.
My post is also a challenge to duty and not to scorn or disparage anyone or to drag the reputation of the NUJ in the mud as I sill received information and photographs from NUJ members to do my post and duly inform the public based on demand that same yesterday morning.
I do not expect this kind of reaction from my friends and partners in progress in NUJ Ondo State Council who are well respected officers of the 4th realm of the Estate as I can never insult them knowing their capabilities and our past engagements.
I expect them to be circumspect at this time and join hands in unravelling the mystery of the Explosion incident and those behind it as opinions are now sharply divided between the preliminary investigation report of Ondo State Commissioner of Police which leaves many loopholes and so much to be desired and the emerging Scientific angle of falling Asteroid in Akure.
I made the post in question which is now generating this kind of reaction out of genuine love for the good People of my State and to ensure that nothing is swept under the carpet in getting to the root of the matter which I expect NUJ to be more interested in this matter at this time as the said explosion is the third in South West Nigeria in the last 5 weeks starting from Ekiti Government House to Abule Ado in Lagos and now Eleyowo in Akure Ondo State with the aim of demanding for adequate security, care and compensation for the victims of the strange occurrence that happened when we are still grappling with COVID 19 to which we are yet to find solution till date. I never knew that it will earn me this kind of reaction.
If the Akure NUJ felt insulted in any manner with my innocuous update, I wish to use this medium to apologise to the Union and its members that has stood the test of time in all ages through tick and thin fighting oppression with the aides of the Pen and has remained the conscience of the society. I mean no harm and wish it never happened.
However, I feel compelled to point out the fact that some members of NUJ Ondo State Council have also insulted me, made several unguarded statements and called me several unprintable names over this issue but I choose to ignore them not out of want of what to say in reply but to foster good relationships, to prove a point that I don’t react to issue when I am in a rage and to respect the mood of the Nation.
This is in spite of the fact that the NUJ which they all belonged has made its release and demanded for apology with seven days ultimatum and one day is yet to pass.
If there is no previous animosity and personal misgivings, I hereby demand that NUJ should compel the following members: Ebenezer Adeniyan, Oluwaseun Akingboye, Adegbite Leke Sikirullahi (NUJ Secretary), Adekunle Akinwumi KekeAwada, Patience Ibeh and Olabisi Segun Olaniyi to apologise to me.
I demand that these personalities should apologise to me too for committing same offence they alleged against my person of committing against their Union as two wrongs cannot make a right. Their apologies are necessary in the spirit of genuine reconciliation.
I wish to appreciate the personalities that have called me in relation to this matter within and outside the NUJ. I would have loved to mention their names individually but for security reason and protection of their identity and so as not to tag them sell outs.
I also wish to thank some of my friends that stood in for me in my absence in the various pages on Facebook, Blogs and chat rooms. These People rose in my Defence that I could not have disparaged the NUJ in the manner it was painted and that I was misunderstood and quoted out of context. E se gan!
I am happy doing this Response based on intervention from various angles and based on what civilisation demands and not because of the ultimatum and fear of threat of declaring me persona non grata as the body NUJ has no such power to do that without first giving me fair hearing which is my inalienable Constitutional right. No one can condemn another without hearing from him (audi alteram partem). That will be a miscarriage of justice.
Let me end this Response by challenging NUJ Ondo State to assist our People in getting to the root of the undeserved explosion of yesterday and not allow the issue be swept under the carpet as usual in Nigeria as over 100 houses of the People of Ondo State were either totally destroyed or partially destroyed.
Long live NUJ Ondo State Council.
Thank you all and God bless!
TOLU BABALEYE ESQ writes from Abuja.