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Delta Teachers' Union Suspends Teacher For Taking Part In Protest Same Day Governor Okowa Buried Father

November 15, 2021

The suspension of Ejezire was politically motivated following his popularity in his area "which some teachers in the area were not too comfortable with".

The Delta State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has suspended one of its members, Goodluck Ejezire for three months for taking part in a protest to demand their entitlements from the state government on the day Governor Ifeanyi Okowa buried his father.

SaharaReporters gathered that the 'demand for entitlements' protest, which involved teachers from across the 25 local government areas of the state under the umbrella of the Basic Education Staff Association of Nigeria (BESAN), took place on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, the same day the remains of Pa Okorie Arthur Okowa, father of Governor Okowa of Delta State, were laid to rest at Owa-Alero, Ika North East Local Government Area of the state.


Our correspondent gathered that the suspension of Ejezire, a teacher in the Isoko South Local Government Area of the state, came on November 5, 2021, after he indicated an interest in contesting for the position of chairman in the local government NUT elections taking place today, Monday, November 15, 2021, across the 25 councils in the state.

An executive member of the state NUT, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being sanctioned, told our correspondent that the suspension of Ejezire was politically motivated following his popularity in his area "which some teachers in the area were not too comfortable with". 

"One of such teachers not comfortable with Ejezire's aspiration is the state NUT treasurer, Sunday Eterigho, who masterminded the current travails of the young man vying for the position of chairman. 

"Again, the incumbent state chairman of NUT, Titus Okotie has not been on good terms with Ejezire for contesting against him as state chairman during our NUT elections sometime in July this year. So it was a golden opportunity to stop the young man from achieving his aspiration and the only way to do that was to slam him with three months' suspension over flimsy anti-union activities barely a week before the election. Okotie is doing this to be in the good book of the governor," the source said. 

Speaking on his suspension, which he described as "illegal, unconstitutional and a witch-hunt," Ejezire said, "I was suspended by the state chairman of NUT, Comrade Titus Okotie, masterminded by the state NUT treasurer Sunday Eterigho and others that I took part in a protest organised by teachers across the 25 local government areas in the state under the umbrella of Basic Education Staff Association of Nigeria (BESAN), on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, which coincided with the day the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa was burying his late father at Owa-Alero. The protest that was done almost ten months ago, why bring it now that I am contesting for an election? It is just a witch-hunt.

"The protest we embarked on is what NUT tagged anti-union. The protest was carried out on the 16th day of February 2021 by Delta State primary school teachers from the 25 local government areas and after the protest, I contested against the incumbent state chairman on July 19, 2021. Then, anti-union activities were not known but after I submitted my nomination and consent form on the 5th day of November 2021, they now invited me before a three-man panel, querying me and asking why I was involved in the protest carried out in February 2021. I told them that BESAN did, not me. 

"On Tuesday, 9th November 2021, all chairmanship aspirants were invited to teachers house in Asaba, I was present, then after the meeting, a suspension letter was handed over to me. As I talk to you, our election is going on now- the 15th day of November 2021. I have been denied my mandate as chairman that has the mandate of teachers. For you to know that what's happening to me is politically motivated and a witch-hunt, some of my colleagues who participated in that February 16th protest are contesting for today's ongoing election. 

"As we talk now, one of my colleagues, Comrade Jeremiah Okonta, who is the BESAN's Secretary-General, who signed the protest letter and participated was not suspended and he is contesting as Ika South NUT Secretary in the ongoing election. The master planner of my suspension who connived with the state NUT chairman and others was paraded by the Delta State Police Command as being involved in armed robbery and it was published by state-owned newspapers. Today, he's holding a position as the state executive of NUT. 

"On the 18th of October 2021, this same member of the NUT executive had boasted and threatened that I would be disqualified and that he would shoot my two legs should I come to the election ground. I asked him why but he said nothing, It's now I know that I am being punished unjustly because as an aspirant contesting against their candidate I have the mandate of the teachers. That is why they suspended me to pave the way for their candidate to carry the day without any opposition. They are afraid of me and have decided to intimidate me because of my pedigree as a no-nonsense man."

The letter of suspension titled "Involvement In Anti-Union Activities: Suspension From NUT", was signed by the Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dan Basime and dated November 5, 2021.

The letter, obtained by SaharaReporters, states Ejezire had been suspended for three months for his alleged involvement in what it called 'anti-union activities'.

The letter states, "I am directed to refer to the above-mentioned subject and to inform you that the committee set up by the state wing of NUT to investigate your alleged involvement in anti-union activities have completed its assignment. In this regard, I am asked to state that you have violated article 29(sub-section 1a, B, D, I, J and 1) of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) constitution.

"Consequent on the recommendation of the committee, I am directed to convey the following:

"That you are hereby suspended from the union for a period of three months. That the suspension takes effect from Friday, 5 November 2021. That you are to tender a written undertaking to be of good behaviour to the leadership of the state wing as a pre-condition for your reinstatement. That you are barred from all union activities while the suspension lasts."

Meanwhile, when contacted over the issues, the state chairman of the NUT, Okotie, said "Goodluck was suspended over anti-union activities which occurred sometime in February 2021", and when asked to mention the anti-union activity, he declined.

At the time of filing this report, the NUT local government election was in progress without Ejezire participating because of his suspension.