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Labour Union Threatens Fresh Strike Over Governor Wike’s Disobedience To Court Order On Payment Of Teachers' Five-Year Salaries

November 18, 2021

The salaries of the affected teachers had been stopped by the state government for five years, leading to litigation and protests over the matter.

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Rivers State University, has threatened to embark on a fresh strike over the refusal of Governor Nyesom Wike to obey a subsisting court judgment that ordered the immediate payment of the salaries to teachers of state-owned tertiary institutions.
The salaries of the affected teachers had been stopped by the state government for five years, leading to litigation and protests over the matter.


The affected primary and secondary school teachers working in the staff or demonstration schools of Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education and Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic.
In a court document obtained by SaharaReporters, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria on June 26, 2018, granted the reliefs sought by the teachers.
The court held that the teachers' employments are valid, adding that the stoppage of the payment of their salaries by the state government was unlawful.
SaharaReporters gathered that after the judgment was delivered, the Rivers State government appealed the Industrial Court judgment at the Court of Appeal.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal struck out the appeal filed by the state government in October 2020 for improper entering of the wrong appeal.
The Chairman of RSU SSANU, Comrade Ene Aaron Osorochi questioned the state government’s refusal to pay the salaries of the teachers for about five years.
He then asserted it would embark on strike action come January 2022 if the government failed to pay the teachers.
Osorochi said, “Two weeks ago they sent two women; the state Ministry of Transportation’s Permanent Secretary and another staff from the ministry. The women said they were instructed to take complaints of the Head of Service - Rufus Godwin and report back to him. The delegates promised that the Head of Service would be available in our next meeting as he was unavoidably absent.
“Surprisingly, the women were the ones that came today to represent the head of service. We thought they were going to give us a response but they only told us that they had given the documents we gave them to the Head of Service and he has handed it to the governor.
“The meeting did not last more than two minutes. We are not satisfied at all with the outcome. We were demonstrating at the liberation stadium venue of the NBA conference and the Commissioner of Police intervened. We expected that by today we should hear something good but here we are; nothing at all.
“The CP said he has given the documents we gave to him the last time we came for the meeting to the governor though not personally. We asked him for a definite time to hear from him. The CP said we should come back in two weeks’ time.
“On the 30th, we are coming back to meet him to hear if there is any information from the governor negative or positive. We believe it should be positive. From what happened two days ago; where the governor enforced a court judgment.
“He has to do this one. Since 2018 the court gave judgment and he has not deemed it fit to take action up till now. Let's watch and see till two weeks’ time. If nothing happens we have already commenced the process of industrial action. The process is long and terminates by the end of December.
“By January, the union will have no other option than to commence action from where we have stopped. We will speak the language of unionism.”
Speaking also, the Chairman of the Rivers Civil Society Organisations, Enefa Georgewill said, “We as a civil society organisations, we see the continuous delay by the government to give a definite answer as really disappointing. The last time they sent these representatives, they told us that they were here on an errand on behalf of the Head of Service of Rivers State.
“That by the next time, the Head of Service would come himself; surprisingly these same representatives came again. As a civil society organization, we are disappointed, we think that a government headed by a lawyer should be the first to obey court judgment.
“Very recently, the governor did say that his government obeys court order. That is why within less than a week, he obeyed the court order of a ruling given in favor of a paramount ruler. One begins to wonder why the governor will pick and choose which court or ruling to obey and not to obey.
“We think that the government, the office of governor, the teachers and everyone of us are all creation of law. As such, we should learn to obey court order even if it doesn't go our way.
“However if we reasonably feel that government is only using delay tactics to keep us on the dialogue table, we will be left with no other choice than to discuss with the teachers to go back to the street.
“As at now, the Commissioner of Police has asked us to come back on the 30th of November 2021 for him to see the governor physically and get a word from him. We will respect his office from now till that time. But for us in the civil society space, we doubt if our patience will exceed 30th of November 2021.”