Imo State workers begin five-day warning strike today



• SSG denies complicity in alleged N2b loan scam
• Hoodlums vandalise 800kva water equipment

AFTER the meeting between Governor Rochas Okorocha, and the labour unions in Imo State on the unpaid salaries ended without comprise, the unions have directed all their workers to begin a “warning strike” today.

The unions issued a statement to that effect yesterday in Owerri, signed by the Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Hycinth Emele, and Secretary, Duruegwu Kyrian, President of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), and Secretary, E N. Iwuji Ambrose Onuoha.

The others are the Chairman, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Austin Chilakpu, Chairman, Joint Health Workers Union (JUHUSU), Nzenwata Francis and Secretary, Ikedi Onah, Chairman of ANGNDP, Dr. D. C. A. Akaogwu, and Assistant Secretary, Dr. Emeka Okereke.

NMA Chairman, Emele, told The Guardian that the association joined the organised labour because the governor failed to recognise the association even as he regretted the state government’s unfriendly treatment of workers.

“Some people are wondering why NMA joined the organised labour. The governor is not recognising the NMA. Many of our colleagues, medical doctors, are not paid,” he said.

According to the workers, by directing the payment of half pay for a month and by cheque in the 27 councils, Okorocha is being insensitive to the workers who are owed five months and over, primary school teachers who are being owed for 18 months, and retirees, who die in their numbers, having waited in vain for over a year.

They also condemned the “endless verification exercises” while those without problems are not being paid. However, Okorocha has invited the workers for another dialogue on Wednesday.

He urged them to consider his consistency in the past and the Christmas bonuses he had given them, noting that the nation’s economic difficulties have made the irregular payment of salaries inevitable.

“I want to appeal to workers in Imo State, especially those concerned, to shun the strike at this time we are trying to rebuild the entire state for the good of our people,” he said. “We did enter an agreement. I want them to respect that agreement.”

In another development, six inmates of the Owerri Prisons were set free over the weekend by the Imo State Chief Judge, Paschal Nnadi. They were among the over 2,000 inmates of the 548-capacity facility, which The Guardian learnt has no fewer than 1,732 awaiting trials.

Those freed were either being detained unlawfully or had overstayed the term of punishment for their alleged offences had they been convicted, (or both).

The Comptroller of Prisons, Ifeanyi Amaliri, regretted that the lack of adequate facilities to take the suspects to court, which has led to cramping of the facility urging more collaboration and assistance from to the extent that awaiting trials far exceed the actual capacity.

However, some unidentified hoodlums were said to have penetrated the Otamiri water head station in Owerri and vandalised the 800kva water pump, thereby depriving consumers of water.

Inspection the facility over the weekend, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Utilities and Public Safety, Chinedu Ajoku, who set up a panel on the development, gave the committee one week to report back to the government.

Meanwhile, the Secretary to the State Government, Jude Ejiogu, has denied involvement in the activities of some fraudsters, who allegedly used his office to dupe some unsuspecting indigenes of various amounts of money as Agric loan package.

A statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Ikenna Onuoha, urged the public not to succumb to such plot, stating that he has no hand the fraud being perpetrated through the social media.

According to the statement, “the scammers, not wise enough, claimed to be the Chief of Staff and Commissioner for Special Duties in Imo State, with little or no information that Jude Ejiogu is the Secretary to Imo State Government and has ceased to be the Chief of Staff and Commissioner for Special Duties since June 8, 2015.”

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