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NLC, Abia govt trade words over parastatals salary claims

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The Abia State government has taken exemptions to the claims by the State chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Uchenna Obigwe against the government over the salaries of civil servants in the state parastatals.

It claimed that the existing laws made by the Abia House of Assembly does not empower the State government to pay workers in the parastatals, as the management of those parastatals are permitted by law to make, retain and use their revenue to pay their workers as at when due.

John Okiyi Kalu, the Commissioner for Information in Abia state, in a statement issued to newsmen in Umuahia, the Abia state capital, Monday, following purported ultimatum slammed on Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led administration by the Organized labour in the state, demanding payment of salaries owed to workers in Abia parastatals, slammed the labour leaders.

According to the statement, The state government provides support to parastatals from time to time through the payment of subventions which are not necessarily for salary payments.

It reads partly, “It is important that we correct some factual distortions and falsehood contained in the statements for the sake of posterity. We agree that “a labourer deserves his wages,” and, hence, have worked very hard to prioritize workers’ emoluments in the state. As confirmed last Saturday by Comrade Obigwe, via a radio program monitored in Umuahia, Abia State, Government is not owing workers in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the state any salary.

“Statutorily, these are the workers paid directly by the state government and they constitute more than 70% of the state workforce. NLC leadership at both state and national levels confirmed that workers in our MDAs are not being owed salaries and we make bold to state that they have already received July 2019 salaries. State parastatals also do not remit any portion of their revenue to the state government’s consolidated revenue account unlike the MDAs.

“If organized labour, led by Obigwe, is asking the state government to directly pay salaries of workers in parastatals then they should be bold enough to approach the state House of Assembly to amend the relevant laws to ensure that such parastatals remit their revenues to the state coffers so the state can assume full responsibility for paying workers in those parastatals.

“It is on record that this administration has made several interventions to help pay parastatals workers including paying workers of ABSUTH 11 months salary arrears in 2015, payment of N2bn debt of AbiaPoly, payment of months of subventions to all the ailing parastatals in the state etc.

“The details of the management of CBN bailout funds and Paris Club Refund to Abia State is within the public domain and we invite the State NLC Chairman, Comrade Uchenna Obigwe, who was a prominent member of the committee that distributed the funds to publicly give account of how he and other members shared the funds to defray unpaid wages.

“Suffice it to state that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) applauded the transparent manner the state government, led by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, managed the funds. It was this same organized labour that dominated the committee that decided who to pay and who not to pay in the face of limited resources.

“Interestingly, the same NLC Chairman, Obigwe, who is now pretending to be championing the cause of pensioners and some parastatals also vehemently opposed the proposal by the state government to the committee that more resources be allocated to pension payments and some of those parastatals. We invite him to explain the basis of that his stance to the public.

“We wish to state without fear of contradiction that Abia is among the few states that are yet to receive the last tranche of Paris Club Refund. That the state NLC Chairman publicly claimed that he “read online” that the state government has received such payment is mischievous, bearing in mind that someone occupying his position is expected to verify information before going public and not rely on some fabricated falsehood in questionable online outfits”

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National News

UN estimates Boko Haram kills 35,000 so far in Nigeria

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An estimated 35,000 persons have lost their lives in the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States and other parts of Nigeria since the beginning of the conflict in 2009, the United Nations has said.

“These are 35,000 too many deaths,” it said in a statement.

The agency also said 37 aid workers lost their lives in the course of their duties in the region.

This was disclosed in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in commemoration of its humanitarian day.

”In total, 37 aid workers have lost their lives in service of humanity since the beginning of the conflict. We are here together to honour them and their grieving families, relatives, and children surviving them.

”As I stand before you today, my thoughts also go to the families of our colleagues who are still being held captive by armed groups. The UN and its humanitarian partners call for their immediate release and return to safety.

”My heart also goes out to the families of the thousands of civilians who have been similarly abducted and whose whereabouts are still unknown,” it said.

”Today, we are here together to remind the world that the humanitarian crisis hitting Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states is far from over.

”The less attention we pay to the crisis in the North-east, the more risks face our colleagues who are working in extremely volatile areas struck by violence and devastation.

”As respect for the laws of war weakens, aid workers are increasingly vulnerable, though they are more needed than ever before,” it added.

The UN also acknowledged the female humanitarian workers deployed in the North-east and the ones who died in the line of duty.

”Women are active in every aspect of humanitarian action: from negotiating access to people in need to addressing deadly diseases such as measles and cholera. From reuniting separated children to ensuring people uprooted by natural disasters and conflict have shelter, access to clean water, healthcare, food and education,” it said.

”Women humanitarians bring a unique perspective to this work through their understanding of the specific needs and priority of girls and women.

”And women humanitarians extend our global humanitarian access in parts of the world by their ability to reach women and girls who might otherwise be out-of-reach and bring them the information, support and services they need.

”Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa, Hauwa Mohammed Liman; they were midwives with ICRC and were executed after being held in captivity by non-state armed groups for more than six months. Both aid workers were abducted from Rann town, Borno State in March 2018 along with a nurse from UNICEF who is still held in captivity.

”Faye Mooney, she was a British communications and learning specialist with the non-governmental organisation, Mercy Corps. She lost her life in an attack by gunmen in Kaduna State earlier this year.”

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National News

Governor Matawalle appoints new head of service

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Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle has appointed Kabiru Balarabe as the new head of service for the state’s civil service.

Until his appointment, Balarabe was the permanent secretary, Government House.

A statement signed by Yusuf Idris, the Director-General of press affairs to the governor on Saturday, said the appointment takes immediate effect.

The appointment followed the retirement of Mujtaba Isa, the former head of service.

Matawalle charged the new head of service to live up to the administration’s expectations by restructuring the service in the state and making it a role model.

Born in March, 1966, Mr Balarabe, a graduate of the University of Sokoto, joined the civil service as a research officer in the old Sokoto Military Administrator’s office in August, 1991.

He served in various capacities including as private secretary to former President Shehu Shagari between 1993 and 1996.

Balarabe was also a principal private secretary to the Zamfara State first civilian governor, Ahmed Sani, and a former local government sole administrator of the old Kasuwar Daji Local Government.

(NAN)

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Herdsman lands in prison over alleged rape of 14-year-old girl

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Lawani Oseni, 22, has been remanded in prison custody by an Iyaganku Chief Magistrates’ court sitting at Ibadan on Friday, for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl.

The Chief Magistrate, Mr O. Adisa, in his ruling said the court had no jurisdiction to preside over the case, but remanded the defendant at Agodi prison.

However, Oseni’s plea, was not taken.

Adisa, thereafter, adjourned the matter till Aug. 27.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Lawani, a cattle herder, of undisclosed address, was in court on one-count charge of rape.

The Police Prosecutor, ASP Ade Adebusuyi, told the court that the accused on Aug. 5, at about 12 noon, was alleged to have forcefully penetrated the girl, without her consent.

He said: “The victim was said to be hawking sachet water and Lawani, who was rearing his cattle, stopped her on the pretext that he wanted to buy.

“Lawani in the process allegedly had unlawful canal knowledge of her without her consent in the forest.

“The victim was alleged to have been deflowered by the defendant in the process, she shouted and called for help, and farmers in a nearby farm came to her rescue.

“The victim was rescued and the defendant arrested, while the matter was reported at Idi-Ayunre Police Station, Ibadan.’’

Adebusuyi said, the offence is contrary to Section 357 and punishable under Section 358 of the Criminal Code, Cap 38, Vol. II, Laws of Oyo State 2000.

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