Akwa Ibom Governor sacks over 600 Local Government Staff
…sets up Special Committee
By Ofonime Honesty/ Joseph Atainyang
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State is on the verge of dismissing over 600 staff reportedly employed into the Akwa Ibom State Local Government Service Commission by the suspended Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Valentine Attah.
To fast-track the process, the governor has set up a committee to summarily dismiss the employees on the grounds that their recruitment did not follow due process.
Codenamed ‘Special Committee’, the panel announced via a notice pasted at Local Government Secretariats and offices that employees should appear before it with educational qualifications and service particulars.
The said notice was sighted by these reporters on a visit to Uyo Local Government Secretariat.
It reads: “Staff posted to Uyo local government by posting of 4th June, 2018, and 12th March, 2019 are to appear before the Special Committee today, Wednesday, 19th June, 2019 at the office of the Akwa Ibom State Head of Civil Service with their educational qualifications and service particulars by 9am.”
*Real News* had reported that some of the newly employed staff had allegedly lobbied with as much as N200 thousand to gain the ‘illegal’ recruitment.
We also gathered that the Head of Service, Uyo Local Government Area and Dean of HOS, Mr Ebukidung was said to have enrolled three of his children in the list. According to sources, they were duly employed and issued with appointment letters.
Our correspondents learnt that one HOS, Mr Affia whose son finished his Masters degree programme from a certain university in London, was on arrival in December 2018, appointed a principal legal officer on Grade level 12.
Meanwhile our team met some victims of the fraudulent employment at the premises of the Akwa Ibom State Head of Service, Elder Effiong Essang in the Akwa Ibom State Government House, running about in scattered directions. They pleaded their names and faces should not be published.
They lamented their plight, saying as qualified but jobless citizens of the state, they thought they had conquered their employment challenges, not knowing they were going to be fired.
The victims called on the state government to temper justice with mercy and reinstate them for the sake of their innocence and responsibility of catering for their families.
It could be recalled that Sir Val Attah was suspended by Udom Emmanuel over illegal employment of over 600 personnel into the service and promotion of 31 members.
The suspension letter which was signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem stated thus in parts, “This is sequel to his involvement in an unauthorized recruitment of persons into the Unified Local Government Service.
“The suspension takes immediate effect pending the outcome of the state audit on the recruitment exercise. The appointments of those who benefited from the said recruitment are hereby declared null and void”, the letter concluded.
However, all attempts to get confirmation from government information managers proved futile as the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Ekerette Udoh and the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem could not respond to phone calls.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a government house source told our correspondents who were present at the spot that as was already stated, the dismissal was authentic.
He said, “You know the suspension letter of Sir Val Attah had already stated that the recruitment was null and void. So as you can see, they are here, running up and down and trying to make photocopies of their documents so they can submit for verification accordingly”.
Meanwhile, Governor Udom Emmanuel is not strange to dismissing government workers. After resuming office as governor in 2015, Udom Emmanuel sacked 5,000 teachers who were duly employed during the administration of his predecessor, Chief Godswill Akpabio.
The mass dismissal was said to have been done on the grounds that the recruitment did not follow due process, although Mr Emmanuel was then the Secretary to the State Government.
However, sources in government told our reporters that spaces created by the ongoing dismissal would immediately be filled by the same government.