SaharaReporters has learned that Governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura, terminated the employment of State worker Ruqayyat Tijjani Usman, who worked in the State Ministry of Justice as a Senior Counselor, last week because she expressed her personal opinion in a social media post that he did not like. Mrs. Usman had been employed at the State Ministry of Justice since 2012.
Mrs. Usman spoke to a SaharaReporters correspondent about her wrongful termination saying, “I wrote two posts on Facebook, one was on Lassa Fever and the other was on how [Nasarawa State] workers strike” which had gone on for three weeks by the time of her post.
According to her, “I did not think what I wrote was controversial.”
On February 23rd, the day the strike was called off, she was asked to meet with Governor Al-Makura and ushered into his office.
“After asking me whether I used Facebook, which I said yes I did, the Governor pulled out a printed paper of my social media post,” she narrated to our correspondent during their conversation.
“I apologized to the Governor and everyone in the office saying that I did not intend to create any controversy,” she said.
Her Facebook posts, below, simply stated that “I can see political thugs on the street protesting…I weep for my state,” and that “what proactive measure has the Nasarawa state government taken since the outbreak of Lassa Fever in the State? I have not seen or heard one statement from the govt with regards to those who sacrificed their lives.”
“I didn’t think they were going to embarrass anybody,” she repeated again to our correspondent.
She then explained “the meeting ended on Monday, but on Tuesday someone came to me to say that they heard a termination letter was being drafted for me. They urged that I call my father to beg Big Men so that I may keep my job.”
“I did. I had my father call the Emir to say that I was sorry and to ask to tell the Governor I was sorry. I also sent an SMS to the Governor himself,” she explained.
SaharaReporters obtained a copy of her termination letter which simply stated that “I am hereby directed to terminate your appointment with effect from the date of this letter on the ground that your services are no longer required.”
The letter added that she would receive one month’s severance pay and that she should handover all properties belonging to the government.
When contacted, the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Justice Yusuf Shehu Usman, told our correspondent that “[Mrs. Usman] was terminated because of the clause in her contract that allowed her to be terminated with one month notice or one month salary.” He added that he was “not obligated” to say any more and that “the matter can be taken to court if she wants.”
SaharaReporters also spoke to Daniel Agyeno, who signed Ms. Usman’s letter of termination, who said that he was not authorized to speak on her termination without receiving notification from Governor Al-Makura.
SaharaReporters attempted to reach Governor Al-Makura and his spokesman, however they could not be reached by the time of publication.
You can read the full letter here: