- About 610 employees of local government areas in Katsina who have not been paid salaries for over two years recounted their ordeals
- The workers’ salaries are allegedly withheld as a result of their failure to turn out for staff verification exercise
- They, however, claimed their salaries were held for an unjustifiable cause and appealed to President Buhari to wade into the matter
Not fewer than 610 staff from 34 local government areas of Katsina, whose salaries have been allegedly withheld by the state government for over two years, have reportedly been living in difficulties.
Daily Trust reports that so far six of the affected staff have lost their lives while many others are still battling with different health conditions without means to access proper medical treatment.
Their salaries were said to have been withheld due to their inability to turn out for staff verification exercise conducted by the state government for local government workers.
NAIJ.com gathered that the matter has been before the National Industrial Court in Kano for some time.
However, up till the last sitting of the court on Tuesday, April 17, a truce has not been reached between the government and the affected workers.
Some of the affected workers recounted their ordeals to Daily Trust.
One of them, Aminu Ahmed Ingawa said many had died from frustration associated with non-payment of their salaries.
His words: “As I speak to you six people have died because of frustration and psychological trauma related to this issue, while many others are in serious health conditions.
“You can imagine a family man who is a salary earner staying for 26 months without salaries.”
Ingawa added that the development had led to many of the affected workers’ children withdrawn from schools over the failure of their parents to settle their school fees.
Ingawa who was a level 13 civil servant said in his entire years of service he had never received query or warning as a result of any act of misdemeanor until his salaries were stopped for unjustifiable cause.
“I have been working for 17 years on level 13 and never had an issue, some of us have been on the job for 29 to 30 years without any issue until this sudden development,” he said.
Another affected worker, Jibril Lawal Malumfashi, said: “For over 19 years of service my salary has never been delayed for two weeks without an explanation until now in which today we are counting 26 months without salaries.
“This situation has subjected us to a lot of hardships. Apart from the people that lost their lives, many have sold their properties in order to sustain their families, and for others, their wives have deserted them.”
Malumfashi appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to wade into the matter to facilitate the payment of their salary arrears.
“It is unfortunate that some local government staff in Katsina state are owing salaries for 26 months given the Paris club funds distributed to governors to offset salaries of workers in their respective states,” he lamented.
Counsel to the 610 complainants, Barrister Kamaluddin Umar, blamed the state government for the delay in the settlement of the matter out of court as it earlier requested.
He said: “The matter was slated for a final report of settlement, because the state government and other defendants initiated settlement proceedings, that they should better settle the case outside of the court. So we agreed to their call but they have not presented any terms of settlement up till today, and in fact today the defendants were not even represented in the court. Therefore, the matter is now adjourned to the 10th day of May 2018 for the final report of settlement or hearing.”
Speaking about the position of the government to reinstate the affected staff to their respective positions the legal practitioner said “the reinstatement will take effect when there is termination of appointment. Their appointment has not been terminated. They said they are going to reinstate them, then they would see what they could do about their arrears. They are not certain whether they are going to pay the arrears or not.”
The complainants urged the court to compel the defendants to pay the sum of N500m as general and aggravated damages besides payment of their salaries and other entitlements.
It would be recalled that at the commencement of the proceedings before Justice E.D.E Isele in October last year, counsels to the defendants led by Barrister Abu Umar filed a notice of preliminary objection praying the court to strike out the case due to some oversights in the filing of the suit.
He argued that the ministry for local government and chieftaincy affairs, the local government service commission, as well as the state’s civil service commission in the suit, were not juristic persons who could either sue or be sued.
He appealed to the court to strike out the case for failure to comply with rules.
Barrister Kamaluddin Umar who led the counsel for the claimants, however, objected.
When contacted, the special adviser to the governor on labour relations, Alhaji Salisu Jibiya, said: "This group of workers might have fallen into the perceived ghost workers who could not turn up at the screening exercise of local government workers."
He, however, said the state government and the state House of Assembly have setup a committee to look into their case with a view to addressing it appropriately.
NAIJ.com previously reported that Senator Shehu Sani of Kaduna senatorial central district urged the presidency to fulfill the third quarter promise for the implementation of the new national minimum wage for workers in the country.
Sani said this in his speech with newsmen on Tuesday, March 13, in Abuja.
It would be recalled that Senator Chris Ngige, minister of labour and Employment had assured civil servants of government’s resolve to conclude negotiations on the new national minimum wage before the end of the third quarter.
Ngige, who is also the deputy chairman of the threefold committee for the review of the national minimum wage, also gave assurance that the committee was in progress.
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