By Bayo Oyewale in Lokoja
447 sacked workers of Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi State have dragged the state government to the Public Complaint Commission, seeking to get the government to obey a high court judgement ordering it to pay five years’ arrears of salary owed the workers who were illegally sacked from service.
The workers were said to be legitimate staff of Olamaboro Local Government Education Authority who were laid off in September 2010 during the administration of Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, the former Governor of the state.
The former Commissioner for Education, Chief Sylvester Onoja, was said to have set up the committee that retrenched the staff without resorting to the State Universal Basic Education Board, which is the supervisory ministry.
According to a petition written to the complaint commission, the affected workers said they were indiscriminately relieved of their appointments without any official letter from the government.
Most of the workers, the petition stated, had spent over 20 years in service alleging that they only saw their names on the local government notice board telling them that their services were no longer needed. Apparently disturbed by this ugly development, the affected workers then headed to an Okpo High Court, which gave a judgement on June 7, 2011 in favour of the workers directing the state government to pay their salaries as they remained bonafide members of staff of the state government
However, the state government did not obey the court order neither did it make any effort to appeal the judgement. Following the disobedience of the court order, it was learnt, the same high court issued an order of enforcement on February 28th, 2012 compelling the state government to obey its judgement, which the state government again refused to comply with.
The workers were said to have taken their case to the state House of Assembly without recording any success, which made them to petition the complaint commission to look into their plight.
When the case came up for hearing, no government official turned up except one official from SUBEB who said it was only the state government that can give directive for the payment of the affected staff salaries.
Narrating their ordeals, the affected workers said over 15 of their members had lost their lives as a result of non-payment of their salaries while many are suffering from one ailment or the other with many of their children already sent out of school because they have no money to pay the fees.
They, however, appealed to the state governor to quickly come to their aid by implementing the court judgement as they are suffering in silence and dying gradually.