By Simeon OSAJIE
Report reaching The9JaTREND revealed that the Edo State government, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has concluded plans to take over 56 years old built Oba Oguola Press Centre of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo State Council, at No. 1, Reservation Road, GRA., Benin City, Edo State.
Recall that His Royal Majesty, Oba Akenzua of blessed memory donated the landed property to Edo NUJ in the earlier 70s.
With the assistance of the then military governor of the defunct Midwest/Bendel State, late Brig.-Gen. Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, Edo NUJ was able to erected two story building in part of the landed property.
Subsequent governments have supported the Union in various ways including the present government of Mr. Godwin Obaseki.
The Oba Oguola Press Centre is strategic, as it is the venue for daily distribution of local, regional, national newspapers and magazines to vendors and distributors.
The Oba Oguola Press Centre also houses the befitting office of correspondents and Reliance chapels, among others.
Report reaching The9JaTREND also revealed that Mr. Godwin Obaseki wanted to use Edo NUJ’s land to build Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA), to house the stolen artifacts being returned to Benin from Europe, to rival the Edo Royal Museum, being built by Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, to house the same artifacts.
The Edo royal museum is located opposite the palace of the first-class monarch (Oba of Benin), with major stakeholders in the state and beyond supporting the initiative, which is backed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was also revealed that expatriates that would handle the EMOWAA project for Mr. Godwin Obaseki at NUJ Oba Oguola press centre were at the site for inspection, and they were accompanied by fully-armed policemen, with the demolition likely to commence soon.
The Functioning Director of Lands, Edo State Geographic Information Service (EDOGIS), Mrs. Lydia Igbinigie, earlier wrote to Edo State Chairman of NUJ, Comrade Festus Alenkhe, on the land matter, while the Managing Director of EDOGIS, Mrs. Osaro Aihie, who was appointed by Obaseki about three months ago, later called Alenkhe on the same matter.
The Secretary to the Edo State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, a lawyer, met in his office on Friday morning with some stakeholders on the NUJ’s land matter, with some past chairmen of the state council of NUJ (name withheld) quoting the SSG as stating that he was not aware of the land tussle and demolition bid, but promised to get the details.
Efforts were later made to speak with Edo SSG, but his MTN line was not available, at press time.
When contacted through telephone, the Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Osa Nehikhare, stated that Obaseki’s government was working on moat’s right of way in Benin and its environs, while he declined further comment on the NUJ’s land matter and planned demolition of the befitting secretariat.
Edo State chairman of NUJ, Comrade Festus Alenkhe, who lost his mother some days ago, when contacted through the phone, declined to comment on the matter.
The President of NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, when contacted for his reaction, through the phone from Owerri, Imo State, at 4:53 p.m. on Friday, said: “Please, ask Edo State Chairman of NUJ. I earlier told Festus Alenkhe what to do.”
Alenkhe, at 5:03 p.m., through the phone, said: “Mr. President of NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo directed Edo State Council’s leadership of NUJ to resist the forcible take over of the land.”
He also added that the directive of Isiguzo would be strictly adhered to.