The Lagos State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), has berated some media houses, who, it said, are owing their members of staff.
The Chairman of the Council, Dr Quasim Akinreti, in a statement on Sunday titled “COVID-19 Pandemic: Where Are The Friends Of Lagos Journalists” claimed that some media owners have failed to pay salaries as and when due and failed to fulfil basic economic rights of journalists.
According to Dr Akinreti, the main defaulters are The Champion newspapers, Vanguard Newspapers, Thisday newspapers and DAAR Communications.
The NUJ chair, who said journalists are an integral part of essential service providers globally, berated the treatment of Lagos journalists, who he said are hounded, harassed and disgraced by the security agencies and also forgotten by philanthropists in their philanthropic activities.
The statement read in part: “The Champion newspapers owner, Chief Emmanuel Nwayawu, a leading political figure and an industrialist is owning Journalists in his stable over 64 months of salaries and other emoluments. Very disturbing, after he sold the “The Champion house” he could not pay off our members.
“Her daughter equally have the effrontery to carry on the newspapers business secretly in the Ajao Estate areas without paying salaries too. She organised a media award sometimes last month to deceive Nigerians of social services, the Lagos NUJ was there to disrupt the event.
“To the surprise of the Oriental Hotel, how can one of their clients behave irresponsibly. The management of Oriental hotel pleaded with the Lagos NUJ not to hurt their business interests due to the irresponsibility of the Champion newspapers new owner. In the spirit of give and take, the union complied with the Oriental Hotels management. The agitation continued tonight outside the hotel gate. Surely we have fulfilled our mandate.
“We are even shocked that one of the best union-friendly newspapers in Nigeria, The Vanguard could not pay salaries for about 6 months now. The management has continued to engage the union on resolving the problem.
“The story of Thisday newspapers will shock everyone, with huge profits made the company and expansion to other areas of the media, salaries are not paid regularly until it is accumulated for months and later cleared. The remittances of union dues and others have been stalled for a while, until mostly election time, when a member of Newspapers is contesting election or having an ulterior interest in the NUJ leadership. The 2017 Lagos council NUJ election is a perfect example.
“Surely, the union is equally embarrassed that despite the huge profits from political coverages in the time past and currently, DAAR Communications cannot meet basic economic needs of our members. Today, some retired members of the DAAR Communications are in court to claim their entitlements.
“The question is, what has the journalists done to deserve this lack of respect to self-dignity and economic right?
“Today, many Journalists have become veterans of poor status and suffering in silence. The retirement benefits of members in the Radio Lagos/Eko Fm and Lagos Television are yet to be paid. The union has visited the state pension office for prompt action and written a letter to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for a bail-out.
“The overall effects of this inhumanity to man on the journalism profession and society as a whole are horrendous. Poverty among media practitioners persists, Unethical conduct is the order of the day and the voiceless society has to pay to be heard in whatever form.”