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Niger Delta

254 Rivers’ Workers Drag Wike To Court

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Posted: Jun 29, 2016 at 6:06 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Igoniko Oduma

Yenagoa – About 254 Rivers State civil servants whose salaries were stopped since February 2016 have filed a case against Governor Nyesom Wike at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Bayelsa State.

The workers comprising teachers of primary and demonstration schools of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUE), and Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic (KSWP), Bori, are praying the court to compel the government to pay their salaries.

Wike had reportedly announced in February 2016 that the state government would no longer pay the salaries of primary and secondary schools’ teachers of demonstration schools of RSUST and other designated institutions where pupils and students pay school fees.

The teachers, 102 of RSUST, 97 of IAUE and 55 of KSWP, claimed that since Wike’s order in February, their relevant institutions had refused to pay their salaries.

While the demonstration schools at KSWP are said to have been shut down since Wike’s directive, those of RSUST and IAUE are yet to be closed down but the affected teachers have remained unpaid for five months.

The unpaid teachers, claimants, in suits NICN/YEN/87/2016 for IAUE, NICN/YEN/88/2016 for KSWP and NICN/YEN/89/2016 for RSUST, sued Nyesom Wike (1st defendant) for ordering the stoppage of their salaries.

The claimants, who requested the court to declare their appointments valid and subsisting, also joined the Attorney-General of Rivers State (2nd defendant) and their various institutions, RSUST, IAUE and KSWP (3rd defendants), in the suit.

In the reliefs sought by the claimants against the defendants, jointly and severally, they prayed the industrial court to declare that their respective employments were valid and subsisting.

They also urged the court to declare that the claimants were entitled to the payments of their respective salaries, allowances and emoluments until they attain their respective ages of retirement of the third defendants.

The claimants also sought declaration that the 1st defendant’s directive stopping the payment of their salaries with effect from end of February 2016 was unlawful, null and void.

They also sought a declaration that the 1st defendant (Wike) had no right to order the discontinuance of the payment of their salaries with effect from February 2016.

The claimants further sought the order of the NICN directing the defendants to pay them forthwith the arrears of their respective salaries for the months of February, March, April and subsequently to continue to pay them their respective monthly salaries, allowances and other emoluments they were entitled to as and when due until they attain their retirement ages.

They equally sought an order restraining the defendants, whether by themselves or through their agents, privies and proxies from terminating, sacking, disengaging or in any way interfering with their employments.

When the matter came up for mention at the NICN on Tuesday, Damian Okoro, counsel for the claimants, said that he had served necessary papers on the defendants since February 16, 2016, wondering that up until now, the defendants had not deemed it necessary to file their processes.

While urging the court for short adjournment, Okoro stated that his clients (claimants) had been facing severe difficulties since the stoppage of their salaries since February.

But Okoybule Gbassam, principal state counsel, representing the defendants said that he would file the necessary court processes at the next adjourned date.

However, the court clarified that when a matter was brought for mention, no order could be given, insisting that the normal process must be followed.

The court, which ruled that the matter was brought for mention and that the parties had yet to join issues, adjourned the case until July 12 for hearing.