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Retirees Drags Cross River State Government To Industrial Court Over Non-Payment Of Gratuity

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Top ranking retired civil servants in Cross River State, including permanent secretaries, have allegedly concluded arrangements to drag
the State government and the Accountant General to National Industrial Court in Calabar for refusing to pay them their gratuities since 2014.
Our correspondent gathered that some retirees have not been paid since 2014, the  development which has prompted many of them to be embarking on peaceful protests occasionally to Governor’s office, but protests yielded no result.
It would be recalled that late last year, a twenty-six-year-old man, Mr. Joseph Odey, also staged a one-man protest with a placard, ‘Your Excellency please pay gratuity, my family is distressed,’ He had told newsmen that his late father put in 32 years of faithful service to the state and died as a school principal a few months before he was due for retirement.
On the planned litigation, a retired permanent secretary, who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity, said the court case was the last option since all entreaties and protests have failed, submitting that they were waiting for their legal adviser and solicitor to commence action.

He also alleged that some staff in the Accountant General’s office were demanding gratification of about N200,000 to facilitate payment of gratuities.
But the Accountant General, Joseph Adie, in a chat, described as untrue the allegations that officers in charge of processing documents were asking each retiree to cough out a whooping N200,000 before such papers could be processed.
He said, “well, I want to assure Cross Riverians that nobody have told me that there is demand on pensioners to pay anything before they get paid. My office here is not aware of such demand.
“It is a grievous matter to ask a retirees and pensioners to begin to pay monies for their gratuities or whatever. It is an act of wickedness. In a situation like this, I must confess to you that I am not aware of that type of demand from anywhere, and I will be the last person to be a partaker. As we speak, we have cleared 2013,” he said.

Explaining what could have caused the delay in payment, Adie, a Chartered Accountant, said “the highest allocation that came to the State was N3 billion and that at times, the State would receive as paltry as N1.1 billion and N1 billion respectively”, but added that “even States with highest allocations were also finding it hard to pay as at when due.”
“I am sure you will be surprise that even those States that have the highest allocation owe pensions. Some of them are not even making effort to pay, but we have tried. We are paying, in fact at a point, we were setting aside N200million every month for payment of gratuities.
On why some persons who retired between 2016 and 2017 had gotten their gratuities paid while those in 2015 and 2016 were yet to be paid, the AG said it was an express order from the Governor of the State that  some persons with critical health issues in that batch be paid.
“You know some people have health issues like spinal cord problem. Yes in cases like this, I get my special approval from the governor that such people be paid. They are only two on the line now but if he approves and there are no funds,  we still have to pray but the truth is that such are considered as special cases,” he stressed.
From FRIDAY NWAGBARA, Calabar.
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Court Hastens Suit Against Edo PDP Factional Leaders

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A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, has ordered an accelerated hearing in a N5 billion libel suit filed against three factional members of the Edo State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Justice Idris Kutigi gave the order following an application by counsel for the claimant, Musa Isiaka.
The Tide’s source reports that Senator Yisa Braimoh, in the suit marked: FCT/HC/CV/1025/2022, is suing Omobumhe Bobmanuel Umaru (aka Jesus Army), Osilame Okuofu, and Boniface Pascal Ugbome as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.
When the case came up for mention, the 1st and 3rd defendants were represented by Johnson Bolade while the 2nd defendant (Okuofu) was neither in court nor represented by counsel.
Justice Kutigi then adjourned proceedings until October 27 for the claimant (Braimoh) to effect service of court documents on Okuofu.
In the originating summons dated March 29 and filed by Isiaka Braimoh, who represented Edo North Senatorial District at the 6th Senate, is seeking a perpetual restraining order against the defendants from further publishing defamatory words against him and members of his family.
He also prayed the court for an order mandating the defendants to publish a public apology on the full pages of two widely read national dailies and on all the political platforms to which he and the defendants jointly belong.
Besides the sum of N5 billion damages, the former lawmaker is pressing for N5 million compensation against the defendants as cost of prosecuting the suit.
In his statement of claim, he stated that he and the defendants jointly belonged to several PDP social media political platforms, including PDP Unity League Platform, a group with a membership strength of 200 people.
He said notable members of the PDP Unity League Platform include Governor Godwin Obaseki; his deputy, Philip Shaibu; the Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Osarodum Ozie; Sen. Ehegieuzamere, Sen. Victor Oyofo and Chief Lucky Igbenodion.
He alleged that the 1st defendant, on January 15 posted defamatory messages on the platform against his person and members of his family.
Braimoh alleged that while the 1st defendant commited the act, the 2nd defendant is the chief administrative officer of the platform and the 3rd defendant is the forum chairman.
According to him, the 2nd and 3rd defendants possess the powers to determine who is added and removed from the platform, including carrying out disciplinary powers against erring members.

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Delta Investment In Health Will Reduce Medical Tourism -Okowa

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has said his administration’s investment in the health sector would reduce medical tourism abroad by Nigerians.
The Governor stated this while speaking with newsmen after inspecting facilities at the Advanced Diagnostic Medical Centre and Mother and Child Hospital, Owa-Alero in Ika North-East Local Government Area of the State.
According to Okowa, the huge investment being made by his administration in the health sector was to improve healthcare delivery in the country.
He said the twin medical facilities would, on completion, reduce medical tourism as it would provide first-class medical services to people who would have sought medical treatment abroad.
He said the Mother and Child Hospital would take care of every illness concerning women and children.
He added that the Advanced Diagnostic Medical Centre would take care of all manner of investigative procedures in radiology and other laboratory analyses.
“I am glad that we have gotten to this place. I had high hopes that by today, we would have inaugurated these projects.
“We are working behind time, there is no doubt about that but I have just been reassured that in the next one month, the projects would be ready.
“The equipment are fully on site and we are trying to get things fully sorted out and I am sure that in the next one month, it should be ready and open to the public for use.
“The two projects are obviously very important. The Mother and Child is supposed to take care of every illness concerning our women and children.
“While the Advanced Diagnostic Centre is going to take care of all manner of investigative procedures both in radiology and other laboratory analysis that they have to do.
“The Advanced Diagnostic Medical Centre is also going to be a centre that would be involved in treatments. There are so many equipment in here. But until they finish with this construction, they would not be fully installed”, he said.
Okowa also disclosed that key infrastructural projects being executed by his administration would be inaugurated between November and December.

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2023: Ayade Challenges INEC On Free, Fair Polls

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Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure conduct of free, fair and credible elections in the State.
The Governor gave the challeng in Calabar when he received the new Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the State, Dr Alalibo Johnson.
Assuring the new REC of peaceful atmosphere before and during the 2023 general elections in the State, Ayade noted that given the new REC’s track records and integrity, he had no doubt he would deliver.
“On behalf of the good people of Cross River State, l hereby give you that commitment that we will guarantee you free and safe elections.
“We also call on the INEC to please honour its pledge too so that we can have free, fair, credible, reliable and dependable elections.
“Government is not going to in any way influence your process, but we want to say that we are available and willing to support you at all times that INEC will so require our services”, the Governor said.
Ayade commended the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who, he said, “has distinguished himself in this country”.
“Never before have we had an INEC Chairman who has enjoyed the mutual trust from both the ruling party and the opposition parties.
“This is one Chairman who has conducted his elections and results returned based on what is on the ground.
“He is not subject to any inducement, he is subject to the God that he serves and l want to say that his name would go down in history as one of the very best INEC Chairmen that we have ever had. God bless him and God will continue to sustain him”, he stated.
Earlier in his speech, the new REC, who harped on the need for a conducive atmosphere, noted that it is what is needed for free and fair elections to thrive.
“There is no way we can conduct a free and fair election without security. We call on you to use your good offices to ensure that we have peace in the State.
“Peace in the sense that people can move freely to vote for candidates of their choice, and also, we at the back end of INEC can do our job without intimidation,” he stated.
The REC disclosed that about 90,000 uncollected PVCs were listed across the 18 Local Government Areas of the State, and appealed to the registrants to come forward and pick up their PVCs.
He also said with the creation of new polling units, Cross River now had 3,281 Polling units.

 

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