A group, Rivers State Civil Society Coalition has described Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike as callous and lawless for violating the order of the court that asked him to pay teachers of state-owned tertiary institutions.
The group which also comprises past students of the schools, said this in a statement to react to the stoppage of salaries to the teaching staff of the government-owned schools by Wike's administration for five years.
According to the group, the court ruled on June 13, 2018 that “the governor’s directive stopping the payment of teachers’ salaries was unlawful, null and void, among others.”
It, however, stated that Rivers State Government has refused to comply with the ruling of the court, while adding that the non-teaching staff members of the schools were receiving salaries.
The group also bemoaned how the governor and his officials likened teachers of staff schools of Rivers State owned-tertiary institutions whose salaries were unlawfully and arbitrarily stopped by staff schools to a private ‘Pure Water Business’ of the tertiary institutions.
It then asserted it would embark on a protest if the Rivers State Government fails to pay the teachers.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by Comrade Enefaa Georgewill and made available to SaharaReporters on Thursday.
The statement reads, “The attention of Rivers State Civil Society Coalition and past students of the demonstration schools in Rivers State has been drawn to a statement credited to the SSG, Dr. Tammy Danagogo on May 1, 2021, and Mr Paulinus Nsirim and Mr Bright Amewhule on live Radio appearance concerning teachers of staff schools of Rivers State-owned tertiary institutions whose salaries were unlawfully and arbitrarily stopped by the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Barrister Ezenwo Nyesom Wike over five years ago."
“After listening to the defences of both Government and the teachers and careful scrutiny of the aforementioned documents of teachers, the court ruled in favour of the teachers on June 13, 2018, stating that the teachers’ respective employment were valid and subsisting; that the Governor’s directive stopping the payment of teachers’ salaries was unlawful, null and void among others.
“A copy of the judgement was presented to the Governor Chief Barrister Nyesom Wike by the National Labour Congress Chairman, Comrade Ayuba Wabah together with his Rivers State counterpart, Comrade Beatrice Itubo right in the Governor’s office. The lawyer representing the teachers also wrote the Attorney General of the State as well as the Vice-Chancellors and Rector of the Universities and Polytechnic respectively, to intimate them of the development and the need to pay the teachers," the group added.
RSCSC stated that Rivers State Government appealed the judgment but that it was thrown out in favour of the teachers for not substantiating the case.
It said, “However, on the same day the Judgment was delivered at the National Industrial Court, teachers were served with a Notice of Appeal, an indication that Government pre-empted the judgment. Expectedly so, because Government could not and cannot controvert the statutory employment of the teachers. The Court of Appeal on October 30, 2020, struck out the appeal sought by the Rivers State Government, for lack of merit.
“As a CSO Coalition and past students of this schools, we wish to enlighten the agents of the Rivers State Government on issues of recruitment in the tertiary institutions, since by their statement; they have shown a very high level of ignorance on the subject matter.
“Firstly, the Body responsible for recruiting staff of the tertiary institutions is the Governing Council. This Body is appointed by (and reports to) the Governor on all issues they undertake in the institutions including staff recruitment. Therefore, any employment undertaken by the Governing Council is viewed as having been undertaken by the Government of the day.
“The appointment of the teachers followed prescribed due process just as any other staff of the institutions with most of them putting in over twenty-five years in service at the time of stoppage of their salaries
“Secondly, the staff schools like other primary and secondary schools are made up of teaching and non-teaching staff. The non-teaching staff are clerks, typists, messengers, labourers, cleaners, laboratory attendants, minders, etc.
“The non-teaching staff of these same staff schools are still being paid salaries by Rivers State Government till date, while the teachers and their families were singled out for deprivation, starvation, frustration and mortification to date, many of whom have been lost to death.
“The question begging for the these Government Agents to address is: could they please explain to the general public and the people of Rivers State in particular, the parameter(s) this Government used to decipher that the non-teaching staff of the staff schools are employees of Rivers State Government, for which the Rivers State Government pays their salaries to date and the teachers, employees of a private enterprise of the tertiary institutions for which the Rivers State Government denies them enjoyment of their salaries for over five years.
“It should be seen as it truly is a blatant disregard for the Judiciary by the Executive arm of Government championed by no less a personality than these representatives of the Rivers State Government. It is a stubborn display of political rascality tantamount to political thuggery."
"This is to say the least, callous, obscene and unexpected of a Government headed by a lawyer and a member of the body of benchers. Furthermore, their statement portrays the present Government of Rivers State under Chief Barrister Ezenwo Nyesom Wike as lawless.
“The Rivers State Civil Society Organisation as the foremost CSO coalition and the former students of these schools on behalf of the affected teachers, therefore, demand the Executive Governor of Rivers State, should call his agents to order and commence payments of these dying teachers as instructed by the Highest Court of the Land as far as industrial disputes are concerned.
“Failure to pay these teachers at the end of August, we will be left with the option to mobilise to the Rivers State Government House by way of protest,” the statement further read.